ECONOMY

New Bulgarian power plant may cost up to 4 bln euros

SOFIA (Reuters) – The construction of Bulgaria’s planned Belene nuclear power plant may cost up to 4 billion euros ($5.3 billion), the daily 24 Chasa reported yesterday, citing a report from financial adviser Deloitte and Touche. Bulgaria relaunched the nuclear project in May to secure its position as the leading Balkan power exporter after it shuts down two Soviet-made nuclear reactors ahead of EU entry in 2007. The Deloitte and Touche report reviews seven options for the plant, depending on the type and the number of reactors needed, the newspaper said. The first three options vary in cost from 2.7 billion euros to 3.6 billion euros and consider using an existing site in which Bulgaria sank $1.0 billion in an original project started in the 1980s but later stopped due to lack of funds. The most expensive scenario envisions building two new 1,000-megawatt reactors for 4.0 billion euros, the daily said. The centrist government of Simeon Saxe-Coburg had earlier estimated the cost of the project, located some 250 kilometers northeast of Sofia in the Danube River town of Belene, at around 2 billion euros. Three consortiums have shown interest in the deal, including one comprising Czech engineering firm Skoda Praha, Citibank, Italy’s Unicredito and the Czech Republic’s Komercni Banka. Another group vying for the contract includes France’s Framatome and Russia’s Atomstroiexport. The third consortium, which has said it may pull out of the process, groups Canada’s Atomic Energy Canada Ltd with Italy’s Ansaldo Nuclear, Bechtel of the United States and Japan’s Hitachi Corp. The newspaper said construction on the project should begin by Dec. 31 of this year.