Bulgaria’s Nuclear Drama: The Story Goes into the Next Chapter

Written by on December 10, 2016 in Bulgaria, Business, Economy, Latest - 1 Comment

Bulgaria, the poorest country in the European Union, in which pensioners get 150 Euro per month if they are lucky, has just paid 601.6 million Euro in damages for the cancelled Belene nuclear power plant project. The recipient was the Russian company Atomstroyexport, which is part of the state-owned nuclear corporation Rosatom. By paying that huge amount before December 15th, 2016, Bulgaria saved millions in interests, which the country would have had to pay otherwise. The Russians also slashed off over 20 million Euro, after Bulgaria criticized the way items were charged.

This means, the state-owned Bulgarian company NEK now owns parts for a reactor in Belene as well as some of the parts for a second reactor. Both of them were supposed to be built in Belene, at the Danube river, a bit further east from Kozloduy, a location at which Bulgaria has six nuclear reactors, two of which are operational.

Before the payment to Russia was made, Bulgaria had been ordered to pay, by an international arbitration court. The original claim from the Russian side had exceeded 1 billion Euro. Read an in-depth report about the payment and the Belene nuclear drama at The Sofia Globe. They are our affiliate.

The country is now trying to privatize the Belene nuclear project. Bulgaria’s outgoing Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova said, three parties were already interested. Two of the latter are Chinese. The China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) is the latest company to express interest. Before, the China General Nuclear Corporation (CGN) had officially stated it was interested. While the name of the third company in the game could not be confirmed at this stage, yet another Chinese firm wants to be part of Bulgaria’s nuclear chaos, but chose a different approach: SNPTC, from China, wants to build a seventh reactor in Kozloduy.

A CNNC delegation was recently told by the outgoing Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, a Belene reactor could be built on a commercial basis, without any investments or guarantees by the government. The Chinese side seems to be ready to accept these kinds of conditions.

Critics of the Belene project say, Bulgaria was already producing more energy than it needed. Other critics demanded a “nuclexit”, meaning a shut-down of all reactors and an end to all new nuclear projects, citing Germany as a good example. Germany intends to be nuclear-free by 2022.

By Imanuel Marcus

Read an in-depth report on the latest developments regarding Belene (The Sofia Globe)

Read our piece “Bulgaria’s Nuclear Power Drama: A Huge Mess”

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