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Friday, May 23, 2008

Electrabel confirms interest in Belene nuclear power plant

Electrabel of Belgium, one of the two candidates shortlisted in the tender to pick a strategic investor for Bulgaria’s second nuclear power plant at Belene, confirmed its interest in the project, Bulgaria’s Economy and Energy Minister Petar Dimitrov told reporters emerging from a meeting with the company’s vice-president for Central Europe, Jean Claude Dorcimont, Dnevnik daily reported on May 21.

The deadline for filing final offers to acquire up to 49 per cent in the future company to build and operate the Belene power plant is early June. According to Dorcimont, Electrabel’s interest in Bulgaria includes also investments in hydro-power, wind and other power plants.

The meeting comes shortly after the economy minister met representatives of Germany’s RWE, the other shortlisted candidate. He then dismissed reports in the German press that the company would withdraw from the procedure over environmental concerns and doubts that the technology to be used at Belene was hazardous.

Czech CEZ, Italy's Enel and Germany's E.ON were all shortlisted by Bulgaria's National Electricity Company (NEC) at an earlier stage, but did not make the final cut.

NEC will hold the remaining 51 per cent in Belene, which, Bulgarian authorities hope, would once again make the country a major electricity exporter in South-Eastern Europe, after it had to shut down Soviet-built reactors at its Kozloduy power plant before joining the European Union in January 2007.

Belene's twin 1000-MW reactors would be built by Russia's Atomstroiexport, controlled by gas company Gazprom, with France's Areva and Germany's Siemens as subcontractors. The construction costs have been set at four billion euro, but the total outlay on the project is expected to be closer to seven billion euro.

At his meeting with Dimitrov, Dorcimont also expressed Electrabel's interest in participating in the Gorna Arda cascade and the construction of a gas-powered facility.

(Source: Sofia Echo)

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