ECONOMY

Bulgaria’s electricity exports sharply down

SOFIA (Reuters) – Bulgaria’s dominant power utility NEK said its electricity exports would be around 4.5 kilowatt-hours (kWh) this year, some 42 percent less than a year earlier but much more than previously expected. The fall in exports, mainly to neighboring Balkan countries, follows the closure of two 440-megawatt nuclear reactors at the end of 2006 after pressure from Brussels over safety concerns. «NEK exported 4.09 billion kWh of power by November. For the year, we expect exports at 4.5 billion kWh,» NEK Executive Director Madrik Papazyan told reporters. In October, NEK said it expected power exports to drop to 3.6 billion kWh from 7.7 billion in 2006. At the beginning of the year, the company had expected exports to be close to zero. NEK declined to make export forecasts for 2008 and said this would depend on domestic demand, weather conditions and on the ability of thermal power plants to secure coal and produce more power. The company is building a new 2,000-megawatt nuclear plant, expected to come on line around 2015-2015, to compensate for the closed units and restore Bulgaria’s position as a leading power exporter in Southeastern Europe. The country used to cover around 70 percent of the power shortages in Greece, Romania, Serbia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. (Reuters)