Bulgaria may give Belene nuke project a chance

BULGARIA

The Belene nuclear power project should be given a chance but without the state committing any taxpayers’ money, said Bulgarian energy minister Traycho Traykov.

Speaking to Nova Television on Tuesday, he explained that the power station could be built without any commitments on the part of the Bulgarian government.

In an interview for Dnevnik on Monday, Traykov said the state is weighing its options of limiting its stake from 51% to 20% to make room for smaller investors in the project. Bulgaria could accept a EUR 3.8 billion export loan from Russia provided that it comes in the form of project funding.

The Belene scheme will cost around EUR 10 billion, according to its consultants, Traykov said. This is a staggering increase on the initial price tag of EUR 4 billion laid down in the construction agreement. An extra EUR 2 billion will be added to make up for inflation, additional building work and higher material prices. Another EUR 1.3 billion from the expected increase will come from infrastructure development and grid-connection costs among other expenses of the owner. Financing during construction works will cost another EUR 2 billion, according to Traykov.

Speaking to Darik radio on Sunday, prime minister Boyko Borissov said that no one can pin down the real cost of the Belene project.

Genadiy Tepkyan, vice-president of contractor AtomStroyExport, watered down the latest estimates, saying the scheme will cost up to EUR 6 billion. The Russian side confirmed it will seek damages if Bulgaria balks out of the project. Traykov said the damages laid down in the contract stand at around EUR 800 million.

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