Bulgaria's national power grid operator NEK has chosen a group led by Russia's AtomStroyExport to build a new 2,000MW nuclear power plant at the Danube town of Belene.
Bulgaria is building the new generator so it can remain the leading power exporter in southeast Europe after it shuts down two 440MW reactors by the end of the year due to EU entry on January 1. 'Today NETC's board of directors chose Atomstroyexport to build two 1,000 megawatt blocks at Belene,' NEK said in a statement. AtomStroyExport, in which Russia's Gazprom has a 49% stake, has teamed up with France's Areva and Germany's Siemens for the deal, which is worth up to an estimated 4 bln euro. The consortium beat a Czech group led by Skoda JS, which is owned by Gazprom-controlled OMZ , and included German firm Hochtief and Westinghouse, the U.S arm of British Nuclear Fuels being bought by Japan's Toshiba Corp.
NEK said AtomStroyExport would build two 1,000MW A92 blocks with B466 reactors. It said the blocks, which have a lifespan of 60 years, should be readily accepted by the European Union. 'We chose this option because of its safety record,' it said. Bulgaria launched the construction of Belene in the 1980s and invested around $1 bln, but following environmental concerns and lack of financing it froze the project in 1991. The Socialist-led government has decided to keep at least 51% in the new plant and to participate and bring in a strategic investor to share in the plant's cost and operation. It said details of ownership and operator of the new plant will be decided once the builder is chosen. So far Gazprom, Italy's Enel and Czech CEZ have expressed interest in investing in and operating the plant in northern Bulgaria.