Bulgaria delays deal with Greece’s PPC until the end of April

SOFIA (Reuters) – Bulgaria has delayed until the end of April the completion of the sale of a thermal power plant to Greece’s Public Power Corporation (PPC), the privatization agency said yesterday. This is the fourth time the EU newcomer country is extending the timeline for wrapping up a deal that has been dragging on for more than two years over legal wrangling, environmental and coal-purchase disagreements. «We are extending the deadline until April 30. The time is needed for the technical preparation of coal-purchase contracts and clearing environmental issues,» said Veneta Natcheva, spokeswoman for the privatization agency. In July last year, the sell-off agency picked PPC to buy 100 percent of the Bobov Dol thermal power plant for -105.2 million after a court cleared the sale, which had been scrapped by the previous government. But disputes over the pollution limit of the 630-megawatt plant and an obligation to purchase local coal for five years have blocked the deal as PPC argues that the tough cap will not allow it to use local coal. The plant is situated in western Bulgaria, where 2,700 miners have protested against the sale fearing potential heavy layoffs if PPC is not to buy the coal they produce. One of the 210-megawatt units should close at the end of 2007 and industry insiders say that if the deal is not wrapped up soon it might collapse.

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