Belene in the balance

16 September 2009

Bulgaria hopes to win extra compensation for shutting down Kozloduy reactors 1 and 2, which could influence scheduled decisions on Belene's finance.

In absence of private funding, alternatives for funding two new large reactors at Belene range between Russian state funding and potentially Bulgarian state funding, both of which are controversial.


Decisions on state involvement have been postponed until the end of October when assessments of two other Bulgo-Russian energy projects, the South Stream and Bourgas Alexandropulos pipelines, are due. Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin and new Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borisov met for the first time on 1 September in Gdansk, Poland, when Putin noted that Russia would look elsewhere to invest if there were problems giving the example of a gas pipeline recently completed with China.


Putin and Borisov are to meet again in November to discuss Bulgaria's energy decisions, Traicho Traikov, Bulgarian Economy and Energy minister confirmed, adding that he considered Putin's stance to be unacceptable in the context of Borisov's meagre six weeks in office to date.


Traikov accompanied Borisov on a visit to Brussels and said that Bulgaria expected a European 'decision for granting Bulgaria additional €300 million ($440 million) in compensation for the closed four reactors at Kozloduy nuclear power plant within a month.'


By the end of this year, Brussels is expected to pay all €550 million ($800 million) of the promised compensation for the decommissioning of the two units in 2006, but the government hopes to receive further aid under Europe's recovery plan, to be discussed tomorrow. Traikov stressed that the European Commission backs Bulgaria's position, but the final decision is up to the member states.


If Bulgaria receives the compensation, Borisov will gain space to manoeuver in the face of shortage of funds for Belene's construction. He last week appointed a new manager of Kozluduy units 3 and 4, Stoyan Angelov, in a demonstration that nuclear power remains a key priorities.