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Bulgaria's Belene NPP project needs new nod of approval from EC - MEP

Author Mario Tanev
Bulgaria's Belene NPP project needs new nod of approval from EC - MEP Author: Bulgaria's Ministry of Energy / All rights reserved.

SOFIA (Bulgaria), November 23 (SeeNews) - The project for construction of Belene nuclear power plant, which Bulgaria aims to resurrect, will need a new stamp of approval from the European Commission, as it is considered to be different from the project endorsed 10 years ago, a Bulgarian member of the European Parliament (MEP) has said.

The project will have to meet the new, stricter criteria updated after Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident in 2011, Svetoslav Malinov, said in a video file posted on his official Facebook page on Wednesday.

The Belene site has been repeatedly flagged as unsuitable for the project due to its high seismicity, also confirmed by the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Malinov, member of the group of the European People's Party in the European Parliament, noted.

Earlier this month, Bulgaria's government approved the energy ministry's draft procedure for selecting a strategic investor in the project for construction of Belene NPP. The procedure envisages inviting expression of interest in the project, to be followed by applications from interested parties, submission of binding offers and negotiations.

According to Bulgaria's energy minister Temenuzhka Petkova, there are four potential candidates to enter the project.

Earlier this week, Petkova named Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power as one of the potential investors.

In June, the energy ministry said it has received an official letter from French energy group Areva, in which the company said it was interested in participating in the Belene NPP project. China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) and Russia's Rosatom have also reportedly expressed interest in participating in the project on several occasions. 

In December 2016, following international arbitration, Bulgaria paid 601.6 million euro ($691.5 million) in compensation to Atomstroyexport for the equipment already manufactured by the Russian company for the project. The equipment is now stored at the site designated for the construction of the power plant.

In May, the government asked parliament for a mandate to negotiate with potential strategic investors in the project and submitted a report on the options for its revival drafted by the energy ministry. An analysis by the ministry showed that the most appropriate option for rational use of the existing equipment is to resume the construction of the power plant jointly with a strategic investor, on a market basis and without Bulgarian state guarantees.

In 2008, the then Socialist-led government broke ground for the plant in Belene, on the Danube river, after a long pause and hired Atomstroyexport to build two reactors for the plant. After the project made scant headway, Bulgaria finally abandoned it with a parliament decision in February 2013, citing huge construction costs and unclear prospects for the sale of the electricity produced by the plant.

($ = 0.8701 euro)