Westinghouse still optimistic on nuclear deal with Bulgaria despite delay

US energy firm Westinghouse remains optimistic about the prospects of signing the contract to build a nuclear reactor in Bulgaria, despite the decision by the outgoing administration of Plamen Oresharski to leave the issue at the discretion of the next government, which will be formed following the October 5 early elections.

Reports in Bulgarian media in recent weeks claimed that the shareholder agreement with Westinghouse for a new unit at the Kozloduy nuclear plant had been finalised. The issue was discussed at the cabinet meeting on July 23 – with no decision taken – just hours before Oresharski submitted his long-awaited resignation as prime minister.

Westinghouse Electric CEO Danny Roderick visited Bulgaria on July 29 to discuss the project with government officials and senior politicians to seek re-assurances about the project.

“We wanted to touch base with all the political and government leaders about the next place the project goes. What we realised today is that there is still a lot of support across all political factions and our ability to go forward now, with the next caretaker government, is much clearer now,” Roderick told Bulgarian National Television (BNT).

Roderick said that he met with senior politicians from all of Bulgaria’s major political parties to assess their support for the project, but also to provide information about the proposed new Kozloduy unit.

He emphasised that the project was very different from the aborted plans to build a second nuclear power plant at Belene, the controversial proposal that was officially shelved by Bulgaria in 2012, in that Westinghouse would show a higher degree of transparency.

Belene was agreed as an intergovernmental deal, with no clarity on the final price, whereas the Westinghouse approach was to eliminate all risks at various stages and order equipment only when after reaching agreement on costs and financing details, Roderick said.

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(Bulgaria’s sole nuclear power plant at Kozloduy. Photo: uvioc/flickr.com)