April 29, 2009

Bulgaria lacks funds to build nuke plant

Bulgaria must secure $5 billion to start building a nuclear power plant with two 1,000-megawatt reactors at Belene on the Danube River, an engineer said.

Djurica Tankosic, an architect-engineer for WorleyParsons Ltd., which works on the Belene plant project, urged the Bulgarian government to find funds as soon as possible to avoid delays in construction, scheduled to begin this year, the Bulgarian Sofia news agency SNA said Wednesday.

Tankosic singled out two sources the Bulgarian government could look at to obtain funding, a loan from Russia or an agreement with France's BNP Paribas Bank.

Sofia had requested a loan from Moscow for the Belene facility as part of a pending deal on the South Stream natural gas pipeline. Both sides expect to finalize that deal in May.

BNP Paribas was picked by the state-run NEK, Bulgaria's power grid operator, to help with financing arrangements.

The $5.8 billion Belene plant will use two, third-generation Russian-made reactors. The light-water reactors are to be built by Russia's Atomstroyexport.

NEK will own 51 percent of the plant, and 49 percent was earmarked for the German utility RWE, a strategic partner in the project, SNA said.

Bulgaria's only nuclear power plant at Kozloduy is also on the Danube, west of Belene.