March 22 (SeeNews) - Bulgaria's caretaker government said on Wednesday it decided to seek a derogation from a potential EU ban on Russian deliveries of spare parts and materials for the nuclear energy sector.
The decision aims to ensure the operational use and planned maintenance of Bulgaria's sole nuclear power plant (NPP) in Kozloduy, the government said in a press release.
The proposed exemption concerns the import of spare parts, services and materials for which Bulgaria has not yet found alternative suppliers. The Kozloduy NPP is operating two Russian-made nuclear reactors of 1000 MW each, Unit 5 and Unit 6.
"We are continuing the process of selecting new contractors. At the same time, we are working on restocking such parts in order to ensure the safe operation of the Kozloduy NPP for the next few years and to ensure the country's energy security," caretaker energy minister Rossen Hristov said in a press release
In response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine that began in February 2022, the EU has to date adopted ten packages of economic sanctions and restrictions against Russia, but has not yet included the Russian nuclear energy sector in them. The tenth package, adopted last month, comprises bans on EU exports of sensitive dual-use and advanced technologies for the military sector as well as bans on imports from Russia of bitumen and related materials like asphalt, of synthetic rubber and carbon blacks.
Bulgaria, along with Croatia, received an exemption last year from the EU ban on imports of seaborne Russian crude oil, in order to continue the operations of its sole refinery, Lukoil Neftochim Burgas.
Earlier this month, Kozloduy NPP and Westinghouse Electric Co signed a memorandum of understanding to explore the construction of two more nuclear reactors at the power plant, using the US company's AP1000 technology which was earlier approved by Bulgaria's parliament.
Since December, the Bulgarian government has agreed fresh nuclear fuel supply deals for both operational units of Kozloduy NPP - with Westinghouse for Unit 5 and with French state-backed company Framatome for Unit 6.
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