September 8 (SeeNews) - Bulgaria is considering lowering its 51% stake in the project for the country's second nuclear power plant at Belene to make the undertaking financially viable, Energy Minister Traycho Traykov said.
"It is yet to be determined by how much the stake could be cut as talks with the partner in the construction, Germany's RWE, are ongoing," Traykov told Sofia-based daily Klasa (www.class.bg) in an interview published on Tuesday.
Traykov added that talks on the financial packaging of the project for the 2,000-megawatt (MW) facility are tenatatively scheduled to be completed by the end of the month.
"We are not looking for an investor for our stake but rather moving towards a new structure of the financing together with RWE. We will decide within that framework what will be our stake in the project," Traykov said.
"We want to give the project a chance to materialise, taking on as much risk as we can afford," Traykov said.
Bulgaria is the majority shareholder in the nuclear power plant project through its power grid operator NEK while RWE owns the remaining 49% stake.
The preparation of the Belene construction site started last year.
However, raising funding for the actual construction works on the plant's two reactors, awarded to Russia's Atomstroyexport, and on the adjacent infrastructure has been a key obstacle to further progress. The power plant is expected to cost between 8 billion and 10 billion euro ($11.5-$14.4 billion).
Belene is expected to help Bulgaria restore its position as leading energy exporter in southeast Europe which it lost a couple of years ago with the closure of four units at its sole nuclear power plant Kozloduy. Bulgaria remained with two 1,000 MW units in Kozloduy after it closed down the plant's four older reactors of 440 MW each to address nuclear safety concerns of the European Union which it joined in 2007.
An idea to build two new reactors at Kozloduy, a project that will cost less and will be quicker to implement than Belene, has been circulating lately.
Asked to comment on this proposal, Traykov said the two projects do not cancel each other out. "We have grounds to consider that there is interest by builders and investors in Kozloduy but the process of taking the decision [on the project] should be transparent."
($ = 0.6932 euro)
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