Suez expects Romanian tender

PARIS (Reuters) – French utility Suez said yesterday it expected to hear within «the next few weeks or the next few months» whether Romania will pick the French firm to build a nuclear power plant in the Balkan country. A number of countries in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe plan to build new nuclear power reactors or extend the life of existing ones to meet growing domestic demand and replace aging power capacity. Their plans mirror a worldwide nuclear boom as part of the solution to meet rising energy needs and combat climate change. «We have submitted bids… and in Romania, the process is quite well advanced,» CEO Gerard Mestrallet told journalists after unveiling the firm’s 2007 results. «We expect to hear more in the next few weeks or next few months,» he said. Romania, whose two nuclear reactors at the Cernavoda plant accounted for 13 percent of all power in 2007, plans to build two more reactors, each with 706-megawatt (MW) power capacity at the same site by 2015. It plans to build a second plant later. Candidates to build the two new reactors include Electrabel, Enel, Spain’s Iberdrola, CEZ, a Romanian unit of Arcelor Mittal and RWE. The investment is estimated at around 2.2 billion euros. Mestrallet said that the process was slightly less advanced in Bulgaria. «But we are still working at it,» he said. Bulgaria, where nuclear energy supplies 43 percent of all power, plans a new 2,000 MW nuclear power plant at the Danube River town of Belene. It has contracted Russia’s Atomstroyexport, along with France’s Areva and Germany’s Siemens, to build the plant in a -4 billion deal, with the first reactor expected to come online in late 2013. Sofia has yet to pick a strategic investor for 49 percent of the plant from Italy’s Enel, Germany’s E.ON and RWE, Czech CEZ and Belgium’s Electrabel, owned by French utility Suez.