SOFIA May 11 Bulgaria is seeking private
investors to build a nuclear power plant on the Danube River,
which was cancelled five years ago, Prime Minister Boiko Borisov
said during a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin
Sofia cancelled the Belene project in 2012 after failing to
find foreign investors and under pressure from Brussels and
Washington to limit its energy dependence on Russia.
Since then Bulgaria has opened a gas link with neighbouring
Romania and is working to connect its gas network with
neighbouring Greece, Turkey and Serbia to diversify its
It hopes to privatise the nuclear plant project after it
paid more than 600 million euros ($652 million) in compensation
to Russia's state nuclear giant Rosatom when it cancelled the 10
billion euro project. Rosatom had agreed to provide the nuclear
Bulgarian authorities have already said that Belene could be
built without state guarantees or obligatory long-term contracts
for the government to purchase power from it.
"Prime Minister Boiko Borisov said the government is looking
for a strategic private investor to develop the project," the
government's press office said in a statement.
In December, the Bulgarian government said that Industrial
and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), China's biggest
lender by assets, was ready to finance the Belene nuclear power
project. China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) has also
expressed an interest in investing in the project.
During their phone call, Borisov and Putin also underlined
their mutual interest in the construction of the natural gas hub
on Bulgarian territory, the government's press office said.
Plans for a hub at the Black Sea port of Varna, which would
store and transport gas from Russia and the Caspian Sea to
southeastern and central Europe, follow the cancellation of
Russian gas giant Gazprom's South Stream gas pipeline
project, which would have shipped Russian gas under the Black
Sea via Bulgaria to central Europe.
($1 = 0.9196 euros)
(Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Susan Fenton)