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SOFIA (Bulgaria), August 20 (SeeNews) - North Macedonia has shown interest in acquiring a minority stake in the future project company for the construction of Bulgaria's Belene nuclear power plant (NPP), Bulgaria's energy ministry said on Tuesday.
Two Bulgarian companies - Atomenergoremont and Grand Energy Distribution - have also declared interest in acquiring minority shareholding in the project company, the energy ministry said in a statement after the deadline for submitting expressions of interest in the project expired on August 19.
North Macedonia, as well as Grand Energy Distribution and Bulgaria-registered European Trade of Energy, have also declared interest in purchasing electricity from the 2,000 MW NPP to be built in Belene, on the Danube river.
In March, the energy ministry launched a procedure for selecting a strategic partner in the Belene NPP project. In addition, candidates were also invited to state their interest in acquiring a minority interest in the future project company, and/or in buying electricity from the planned NPP.
Seven companies have declared interest to take part as strategic investors in the project, the ministry said. They include Russia's state-owned atomic energy corporation Rosatom through its wholly-owned subsidiary Atomenergoprom, state-owned China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power.
A German-registered company, two consortia - Belene NPP and Nuclear Power Plant Belene 2019, as well as a Bulgarian-registered company IPK & UP, have also expressed interest to become strategic investors in the project, according to the statement.
IPK & UP, solely owned by Petro Bezpalchuk, has a registered capital of 2 levs ($1.14/1.02 euro) and has no official website.
U.S.-based industrial conglomerate General Electric has expressed interest in structuring project finance as well as participating as a designer and a supplier of equipment for turbine control room, compressors, transformers and other pieces of equipment.
France's Framatome has stated its interest in taking part in the structuring of project finance for safety systems, including electrical ones as well as control systems.
The energy ministry said it will shortlist the companies willing to join the project as strategic investors within 90 days.
"The procedure is flexible, giving options to the selected strategic investor to negotiate with the companies interested in acquiring a minority stake or purchasing electricity from the future power plant," the ministry said.
In June 2018, Bulgaria's parliament mandated energy minister Temenuzhka Petkova to seek potential strategic investors willing to build a nuclear power plant in Belene - a project abandoned since 2012 which the government aims to revive.
Belene NPP must be built on a market basis, as the state will not sign with the investor long-term power purchase agreements with the investor, nor will it provide state guarantees, the energy ministry said in March. Bulgaria will participate in the project company via a non-monetary contribution - the reactors and other equipment plus the construction site and the respective licences.
In December 2016, following international arbitration, Bulgaria paid some 600 million euro ($665 million) in compensation to Russia's Atomstroyexport for the equipment already manufactured by the company for the project. The equipment is now stored at the site designated for the construction of the power plant.
($ = 0.90231 euro)