BRATISLAVA, Oct 4 (Reuters) - Slovakia’s Economy Minister Peter Ziga wants to meet with the management of the country’s biggest electricity producer Slovenske Elektrarne next week to discuss a proposed cost increase for the Mochovce nuclear power plant expansion project.
The costs are likely to run higher than the 4.6 billion euro ($5.13 billion) budget, according to a new cost analysis he received yesterday, Ziga told reporters on Tuesday at a nuclear energy conference. He did not disclose the new figure.
Slovenske Elektrarne, owned by Italy’s Enel, Czech group EPH, and the Slovak state, has had to delay the expansion of the plant, which is due to come online by 2018.
Ziga did not give an update on the timeline on Tuesday but said he believed it would avoid further delays.
“I want to visit the construction site next week to verify whether the new cost is justified,” he said.
Originally, the construction of two new units at Mochovce was supposed to cost 2.8 billion euros.
The Slovak daily Hospodarske Noviny has reported earlier this year the project would require additional 500 million euros.
Slovenske Elektrarne did not comment on the amount.
The government has a 34 percent stake in Slovenske Elektrarne and has to approve any budget changes.
Enel signed a deal with Czech energy company EPH in December to sell its stake in Slovenske Elektrarne in two stages, 33 percent initially and the rest after the Mochovce expansion is completed.
Slovakia’s leftist Prime Minister Robert Fico, re-elected for a second consecutive term in March, has been saying the state would seek a larger role in Slovenske Elektrarne but has pressured Enel not to sell its stake completely before the Mochovce project is finished.
Under a deal with Enel and the government, EPH has agreed to sell 17 percent of its holding in Slovenske Elektrarne to the government.
The Slovak state will have six months after the completion of the Mochovce project to decide whether to raise its holding to 51 percent.
The government will also have a pre-emptive right to buy all of Slovenske if EPH decides to sell.
$1 = 0.8958 euros Reporting By Tatiana Jancarikova. Editing by Jane Merriman