Bulgaria’s Energy Ministry has invited potential investors to submit bids for the construction of the Belene nuclear power plant (NPP).
In a statement dated March 11, the ministry said it would welcome letters of interest from companies keen to build the plant, which will have two 1,000-MW reactors. It asked potential partners to specify in their letters whether they were ready to buy a share of the facility’s future production and whether they wanted a minority stake. (Sofia intends to retain a blocking share in the NPP.)
The ministry also said it hoped to choose a strategic investor for the project within the next 12 months, but it did not reveal whether it had already received any offers for the contract. Several well-known companies – including China National Nuclear Corp. (CNNC), Framatome (France), Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co. (KHNP, South Korea) and Rosatom (Russia) – have already expressed some initial interest in the Belene scheme.
Energy Minister Temenuzka Petkova has said that Sofia hopes to select a partner that is capable of building the plant within eight years on a budget of about 9 billion euros (US$10.2 billion). But industry experts believe that the project is likely to cost 10 billion euros (US$11.3 billion) or more.
The announcement is in line with Bulgarian authorities’ recent decision to restart work on the NPP, which will be built near the River Danube. The Belene scheme has been on hold for seven years, but members of the parliament voted last June to order the government to reverse its previous decisions.
Plans for building an NPP at Belene were approved in 1981, when Bulgaria was still under the control of the Communist Party. Construction then started in 1987 but was halted in 1990. Officials in Sofia decided to restart work in 2002 and selected a consortium set up by Atomstroiexport (Russia), Framatome and Siemens (Germany) as the contractor in 2006.
Bulgaria’s National Electric Co. (NEC) then signed a formal contract with Atomstroiexport in 2008. Work came to a halt several years later, though, owing to disputes over budgeting and calls for involving a US-based partner in the scheme.