US nuclear firm Westinghouse Electric said on August 1 that it has signed a shareholder agreement to build a new reactor at Bulgaria’s Kozloduy nuclear power plant.
The agreement was signed after “consultations with all political parties” in Bulgaria and was subject to future government oversight, the company said. Westinghouse CEO Danny Roderick visited Bulgaria earlier this week to meet with senior political figures to discuss the proposed construction of a 1000MW reactor using Westinghouse’s AP1000 design.
The issue was discussed at the last meeting of the outgoing Plamen Oresharski cabinet, but a decision was left to the next government that will take office after early elections in October. The announcement that a shareholder agreement was to be signed on August 1 has stirred some controversy, especially among the socialists – the party that held the government mandate for the Oresharski administration.
Outgoing economy minister Dragomir Stoynev defended the decision to sign the contract on August 1, saying that the cabinet had to “finalise the talks that we started”. Bulgaria opened negotiations with Westinghouse in December 2013, on Stoynev’s recommendation, made after a visit to the US.
At the time, Stoynev’s recommendation stirred some controversy as well, given that Westinghouse’s AP1000 reactor design was picked without tender, but Stoynev said that this was not a breach of EU rules because other EU member states had done so in the past.
Speaking to Bulgarian National Television (BNT) on August 1, Stoynev said that shareholder agreement would go into force only if it is approved by Bulgaria’s next government. “If there is no approval from the next government, then the case is closed,” he said.
Stoynev said that the shareholder agreement carried no financial commitments for Bulgaria because the financial details of the project had yet to be agreed.
Kozloduy nuclear power plant – which will hold 70 per cent in the project company to build the new reactor, while Westinghouse will hold the remaining 30 per cent – said in a separate statement that the signing of the shareholder agreement was a step towards the construction of the new unit. Kozloduy said that work on the financial framework and the engineering agreements had not started yet.
Westinghouse said that it would provide all of the plant equipment, design, engineering and fuel. “Within the next year, Westinghouse will issue a competitive tender, in line with European Union and Bulgarian public procurement rules, for the plant construction. This process is expected to involve Bulgarian and global construction companies,” the company said.
The new unit, which was estimated to cost $5.3 billion, was projected to be online by 2023, and was “zero-carbon baseload power that meets EU and Bulgarian requirements of competitive and low-carbon energy for the following 60 years.”
(Kozloduy nuclear power plant. Photo: Trygve W Nodeland)