Bulgaria wants bidders for its new nuclear power plant to do better

SOFIA (Reuters) – Bulgaria is demanding better offers for the construction of a new, 2,000-megawatt nuclear power plant, estimated to cost up to 4 billion euros ($5.1 billion), Energy Minister Rumen Ovcharov said yesterday. In February, Sofia launched talks with Russia’s Atomstroyexport and a Czech consortium led by Skoda JS to build two 1,000-megawatt units at the Danube River town of Belene. Atomstroyexport is controlled by Gazprom and Skoda JS is owned by Gazprom unit OMZ. NETC, the state-owned power utility that is handling the tender, had asked the two bidders to use an already-supplied 1,000-megawatt Russian-type reactor and cut the time for its installation to before an initially planned 2012. «The prices we were offered are very close to the price for building a whole new plant and this project is about continuing a previous construction. NETC asked for a change in the prices offered,» Ovcharov told an energy forum. «If we do not get improved offers, we will obviously have to reconsider the expedience of implementing the project the way it is now,» he said, without elaborating. Bulgaria has already spent $1 billion euros on a previous attempt to build the plant in Belene, which included the purchase of a Czech-built reactor and other equipment. But it was never installed and Sofia quit the project in the 1990s due to environmental protests and a lack of financing. The project is seen as key to keeping Bulgaria’s role as Southeast Europe’s leading power exporter after a planned shutdown of two 440-megawatt reactors at its Kozloduy nuclear power plant ahead of its planned EU entry next year.