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Bulgaria prosecutes former energy ministers over mismanagement of Belene nuclear power project

Intellinews 13th Feb 2021, Bulgaria’s prosecution has filed charges against former energy ministers Rumen Ovcharov and Petar Dimitrov over mismanagement that led to a loss of around BGN500mn (€250mn) related to the project to build the Belene nuclear power plant, the Anticorruption Fund NGO said in a statement on February 12.

There was no official statement from the prosecution, but the NGO has published a photo of the documents. The accusations against the two former ministers and two former executive directors of the state-owned National Electricity Company (NEC), Mardik Papazyan and Lyubomir Velkov, were raised back in 2016 when the prosecution launched an investigation. It
claims the two former ministers failed to exercise sufficient control over the executive directors of NEK when they allowed them to sign a deal with Atomstroyexport on the nuclear power plant at Belene.

February 15, 2021 Posted by | Bulgaria, Legal | Leave a comment

USA to market nuclear reactor to Bulgaria

October 15, 2020 Posted by | Bulgaria, marketing, USA | Leave a comment

French, American, Russian nuclear companies join forces to build Bulgarian nuclear station

Well, Framatome is really the old AREVA, coming back from bankruptcy.  They’re all in it together, nuclear companies worldwide, conning the taxpayers

Framatome, GE and Rosatom team up for Belene project,
WNN.18 June 2020, Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom announced today it has signed Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with France’s Framatome and GE Steam Power of the USA to participate in a tender to construct the Belene nuclear power plant in Bulgaria.

The MoUs were signed by Kirill Komarov, Rosatom’s first deputy director general of corporate development and international business, Frédéric Lelièvre, Framatome’s senior executive vice president in charge of sales, regional platforms and I&C, and Michael Keroulle, president of GE Steam Power.

As part of the agreements, Rosatom said that if it were to become a strategic investor in the project through a competitive process, GE would be considered as the partner for an Arabelle based turbine-generator set and turbine hall equipment, while Framatome would be considered as the key partner for the instrumentation and control (I&C) systems for the Belene plant.

The Belene project in northern Bulgaria includes construction of two 1000 MWe units, each using the Russian VVER-1000/V-466 design which is a pressurised water reactor with four circulating loops. Preliminary site works began in 2008, and contracts for components including large forgings and I&C systems were signed with suppliers, but the project was stymied by financing problems……….

Rosatom noted that it has already successfully collaborated with Framatome and GE on international projects, including the Paks-II nuclear power plant in Hungary and the Hanhikivi-1 plant in Finland. It said the cooperation with GE is carried out within the framework of the Akkuyu project in Turkey and the El-Dabaa project in Egypt. AAEM, a joint venture between GE and Rosatom subsidiary Atomenergomash, is a supplier of equipment for the turbine island of each plant.

June 20, 2020 Posted by | Bulgaria, business and costs | Leave a comment

Bulgaria delays deadline for Belene nuclear project bids

Bulgaria delays deadline for Belene nuclear project bids,  SOFIA, March 22 (Reuters) – Bulgaria will give more time for shortlisted investors to file binding bids for its Belene nuclear power project after measures over the coronavirus outbreak have limited access to the project’s data room, the energy minister said on Sunday.Russia’s Rosatom, China’s CNNC and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co had to file their offers to invest in the estimated 10 billion euro ($10.7 billion) project by the end of April.

French energy company EDF’s Framatome and U.S. group General Electric, which had both offered to provide equipment for the 2,000 megawatt project and arrange financing, will also be part of the process.

“At the moment we cannot provide access to the data room for the project. So we would have to extend the deadline for filing bids until we can grant such access,” Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova said. “It would mean a delay of a month, month and a half.”

She added that all shortlisted bidders remain interested.

Sofia has revived the Belene project to make use of two nuclear reactors it bought for more than 620 million euros from Rosatom in compensation for scrapping the original project in 2012. It plans to have the project operational in 10 years. ($1 = 0.9351 euros) (Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova Editing by David Goodman)

March 23, 2020 Posted by | Bulgaria, politics | Leave a comment

Russia keen to have Bulgaria go into debt to Russia, to implement Belne nuclear station

Russia Ready To Take Part in Bulgaria’s Belene Nuclear Power Plant, Medvedev Says,  Moscow Times 

March 7, 2019 Posted by | Bulgaria, marketing, Russia | Leave a comment

Bulgaria’s planned nuclear power station unlikely to ever be built

The Plan to Build a Nuclear Future From a Communist Relic, In the poorest corner of the European Union, political leaders are looking for a savior with 10 billion euros to spare. Bloomberg By James M Gomez,  Elizabeth Konstantinova, and Slav Okov, December 14, 2018,

On the edge of a small Bulgarian town on the southern bank of the Danube River lies a relic from communism with eerie echoes of one of the Soviet era’s most infamous places.

Empty apartment buildings squat on the snow like forgotten boxes. Windows are broken, facades are crumbling and weeds flourish where gardens were meant to blossom. It looks like the ghost town at the abandoned Chernobyl nuclear site 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) north.

Except the crucial difference is that the one at Belene in Bulgaria was never occupied, save for the occasional squatter. The buildings were erected in the 1980s by the government to house workers at a planned facility. But the project was scrapped, revived and scrapped again during the eastern bloc’s transition from communism to capitalism.

Now, in the heart of the European Union’s poorest corner, Bulgaria plans to get the nuclear plant off the ground for real. Facing a dilemma that’s familiar across the continent, the government says the nation can’t keep up with demand for electricity any other way.

It will solicit bids from investors early next year to build a 2,000 megawatt plant at a capped cost of 10 billion euros ($11.4 billion). The land, empty apartment blocks, already prepped foundations and two unused Russian-made reactors will be thrown in as incentives.

Like with nuclear projects everywhere, there’s opposition and—given Bulgaria’s track record—plenty of skepticism as the government makes its case with promises that the effort won’t break state coffers or saddle taxpayers with the bill.

It’s a hard sell. Governments, builders and investors across Europe are shying away from the high cost of nuclear construction and turning toward renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. The consensus of local residents, industry analysts, economists and even some lawmakers is that it won’t work. And if it does, it will be for the benefit of Russia trying to wield influence in Bulgaria.

“It’s a complete mess,” said Krassen Stanchev, head of the KC2 consultancy in Sofia, an associate professor at the Sofia University and a long-time critic of the process. “This project will never fly.”

The Center for the Study of Democracy based in the Bulgarian capital reckons there’s no need for new capacity for almost another three decades and the plant would generate losses of 4.5 billion euros by 2050.

“The main reason not to build this plant is that it will be extremely costly and it can’t offer competitive prices,” said Martin Vladimirov, an energy analyst at the center. “At some point it will turn into a stranded asset, it will turn into a zombie plant without any real role in the electricity system.”

……..Behind a kilometers-long barbed wire fence outside Belene, the proposed plant site boasts a handful of buildings and careworn warehouses. Inside them are grey wooden crates stuffed with equipment meant to secure the reactors to the foundations and connect them to the system. There is also a water treatment facility ready to go online, a spur of railway track and a concrete plant ready to pour.

The only sign of the foundations is a flat, sunken section of ground larger than a football field and surrounded by 15-story cranes that haven’t been used since the 1990s.

The reactors, bought from Rosatom in the last attempt to get the project going, are each rated at 1,000 megawatts—about the same output as Chernobyl reactors. They sit in a field boxed up against the elements.

Though the Bulgarian government is sticking to its cost estimate, most analysts say cost overruns are typical in the industry. Because of that and the strict conditions that free Bulgaria from any financial responsibility, the number of prospective investors may be limited to Russian and Asian companies. China National Nuclear Corp. and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. have both expressed interest.

“The Bulgarian government doesn’t want to provide those price guarantees and unfortunately you need that to underpin the nuclear development,” said Elchin Mammadov, an energy analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence, who says he is bearish on new projects. “It’s too risky and too expensive for a private company to fund it.”…………………

December 15, 2018 Posted by | Bulgaria, politics | Leave a comment

Bulgaria’s Belene Nuclear Power Plant project unlikely to ever be built, now needs EU approval

Belene nuclear power plant will need new EU approval, Emerging Europe, November 23, 2018, Yoan Stanev 

The European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete, has said that the commission’s approval for the Belene Nuclear Power Plant project – given more than a decade ago – is no longer valid. As such, Belene must be treated as a new project and must undergo a new assessment by the commission. Mr Cañete was responding to a question raised by a Bulgarian member of the European Parliament, Svetoslav Malinov, of Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria, part of the European People’s Party……..

“In practice, any new investors will have to agree to a project that is not currently approved by the European Commission and will still have to be assessed according to [now more] stringent European criteria after Fukushima,” said Mr Malinov, who added: “no investor will agree to this.”

Belene nuclear power plant will never be built, but it still offers the opportunity to steal money from Bulgarian taxpayers. Belene is dead. Why does GERB [Bulgaria’s ruling party] refuse to bury it?” said Mr Malinov.

The Bulgarian government has not yet responded to the commission’s statement and the energy ministry is still looking for strategic investors for the project and plans to make an announcement by the end of 2018.

November 24, 2018 Posted by | Bulgaria, politics | Leave a comment

Dangerous Levels of Radiation in a Bay near Bulgarian Resort Chernomorets July 6, 2018, 

A new warning for dangerous levels of radiation in the Vromos Bay near Chernomorets was issued by the health authorities. In Bulgarian and English, a new plate warns that the sandy strip is dangerous, a BBC report showed.

Radiation contamination is high – in individual areas up to 50 times the norm. However, access to the beach is not prohibited, the risk of using it is the responsibility of the people on holiday.

Ore mined decades ago from the nearby Rosen mine were high in uranium. Part of the waste water is discharged into the bay.

“The difference in the content of radionuclides in the sand and in the soil along the sand strip in relation to this terrain compared to the other terrains we are exploring all along the Black Sea is here between 5 and 50 times.” The life of these radioisotope elements until decay is considerable, it exceeds 90-100 years, “explained Verginia Tsanova – Deputy Director, RZI – Burgas.

The effect of staying for a long time on the sand is not immediate, but it can be seen in years, warn health authorities. Small children also risk swallowing sand.

“It has a carcinogenic effect, and it leads to genetic mutations in the genital cells, from there to the offspring, which is extremely dangerous for young people and for pregnant women,” Tsanova added.

Verginia Tsanova stressed that there is no way to ban the use of the beach. “It’s people’s choice, we just have to warn them,” she said.

The beach is without a concessionaire and is preferred by families with children.

Source: Dnevnik

July 7, 2018 Posted by | Bulgaria, environment | Leave a comment

Russian-designed nuclear power plant causes tension in Bulgaria


June 9, 2018 Posted by | Bulgaria, politics | Leave a comment

Russia, France, China compete to develop nuclear power station in Bulgaria

Bulgaria Moves To Revive Russian Nuclear Project Suspended In 2012

The Bulgarian parliament has approved a plan to revive the Belene nuclear power plant five years after the Russian project was suspended due to financing problems and concerns about relying too heavily on Russian energy.

The parliament on June 7 approved by 172 to 14 Prime Minister Boyko Borisov’s proposal to develop a plan to resume construction of the plant on the Danube River by the end of October.

Bulgaria had already spent around $1.8 billion on the plant when the government in 2012 put a moratorium on further workunder pressure from the United States and European Union to limit its energy dependence on Russia.

Bulgaria also suspended the joint project with Russian company Atomstroyexport because it failed to find any foreign investors prepared to shoulder its spiralling costs, estimated at about $11.8 billion in total.

The suspension angered Russia, which had hoped to use Belene as an EU showcase for its new generation of pressurized water reactors.

Sofia had to pay more than 620 million euros to Russia’s Rosatom for scrapping the project, but it also received nuclear parts for two 1,000 megawatt reactors, which were conserved and maintained.

Last week, Energy Minister Temenujka Petkova said that a campaign to pick a strategic investor for the project would be launched by the end of 2018.

Russia’s Rosatom has said it will make another bid to complete the project. Also in the running are Chinese state nuclear company CNNC and France’s Framatome, which is majority controlled by EDF.

Petkova said the government does not want to commit more public funds, extend state guarantees for any loan, or sign any long-term electricity supply deals to make the project viable.

Vadim Titov, director of Rosatom Central Europe, told a Bulgarian energy conference on June 7 that the Russian company is ready to start talks with the Bulgarian authorities on reviving the project.

The Belene plant’s two 1,000 megawatt reactors were intended to replace four old Soviet-built units that were shut down more than a decade ago amid security concerns at the only existing nuclear plant in Bulgaria, at Kozloduy.

There are still two Soviet-built operational reactors at Kozloduy, dating back to 1987 and 1991, which provide about 30 percent of the country’s electricity.

Dozens of Bulgarians protested outside parliament against the government’s plans for Belene on June 7, saying the project’s benefits were not enough to justify its costs and contending that it has been a source of corrupt practices for decades.

June 8, 2018 Posted by | Bulgaria, marketing | Leave a comment

Bulgaria’s struggle to find the money for building Belene nuclear power project

Reuters 12th May 2018 , Bulgaria’s government will ask parliament to give it the authority to
negotiate with investors to build the Belene nuclear power project on the
Danube River, the prime minister said on Saturday.

The Black Sea state initially canceled the project, estimated to cost about 10 billion euros,
in 2012 after failing to find foreign investors and bowing to U.S. and
European Union pressure to limit the country’s energy dependence on
Russia, which would have supplied some equipment.

The current government of Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, however, is renewing the search for private
investors to build the plant after an arbitration court ruled in 2016 that
Bulgaria must pay more than 600 million euros ($717 million) in
compensation to Russian state nuclear company Rosatom due to the

May 16, 2018 Posted by | Bulgaria, business and costs, politics | Leave a comment

Bulgaria trying to get private investors for its nuclear project

Bulgaria Seeks Private Investors for Nuclear Project, US News,  May 11, 2017, SOFIA (Reuters) – Bulgaria is seeking private investors to build a nuclear power plant on the Danube River, which was canceled five years ago, Prime Minister Boiko Borisov said during a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday.

Sofia canceled 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………It hopes to privatize 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 canceled the 10 billion euro project. Rosatom had agreed to provide the nuclear reactors…….

May 12, 2017 Posted by | Bulgaria, business and costs | Leave a comment

Bulgaria pays compensation damages to Russia, for scrapping Belene nuclear plant

Bulgaria’s NEK settles arbitration damages for shelved Belene nuclear plant Bulgaria’s state-owned electric utility NEK has paid 601.6 million euro in damages to Atomstroyexport, the foreign contracts subsidiary of Russia’s state nuclear corporation Rosatom, Energy Minister Temenouzhka Petkova said on December 9 during question time in Parliament.

The money was transferred into Atomstroyexport’s accounts on December 8, Petkova said.

In a statement, Atomstroyexport confirmed receipt of the funds and was satisfied with the fact that NEK disbursed its commitments in full under the terms of an agreement signed in October, which saw the Russian company drop the daily penalty interest as long as NEK paid the principal owed by December 15.

The accumulated amount of daily penalties would have reached 23.8 million euro by that date. NEK’s agreement with Atomstroyexport also saw the Russian company accept a 20.9 million euro deduction in the original amount of damages ordered by arbitration, following several objections raised by the Bulgarian side to the calculation methodology.

Atomstroyexport was picked to build two 1000MW nuclear reactors at Belene on the Danube River, a project that was shut down by Bulgaria in 2012. The Russian contractor filed for arbitration, asking for 1.2 billion euro in damages for equipment ordered for the nuclear power plant, which NEK never paid for, and won the court action in June, although it was awarded just over half of the amount it claimed.

NEK decided not to appeal the ruling in September after Parliament passed a bill on September 28 that authorised a cash injection from the state Budget to NEK to pay the damages awarded by the tribunal.

The delay in the disbursement was due to the fact that Bulgaria was waiting for the European Commission to rule on whether such a transfer was allowed under the EU’s state aid rules. The Commission gave its approval earlier this week, according to reports in Bulgarian media.

NEK will now take ownership of the equipment manufactured by Atomstroyexport, but uncertainty remains about what the company will do next. Bulgarian officials travelled to Iran earlier this year to discuss a possible sale of the equipment, but there has been no development in the months since then.

Speaking to reporters in Parliament on December 9, Petkova said the Belene assets – the site itself and the equipment from Atomstroyexport – could be spun off into a separate company that would be put up for privatisation.

“If there is [investor] interest, then the [Belene nuclear power plant] project could be carried out on a market basis. If there is no investor interest, we will go in another direction and seek other options,” she said, as quoted by Bulgarian National Radio.

December 10, 2016 Posted by | Bulgaria, business and costs, politics | Leave a comment

China’s global nuclear marketing drive -= now looking to Bulgaria

nuclear-marketing-crapChina eyes nuclear project in Bulgaria A delegation from the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), the country’s largest state energy company, visited Sofia and met with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, to possibly resuscitate a shelved nuclear power plant project.The Belene nuclear power plant, situated near the Danube, was frozen in 2012, reportedly due to a lack of funds.

December 9, 2016 Posted by | Bulgaria, China, marketing | 1 Comment

Bulgarian prosecutors charge former economy and energy minister over botched nuclear power project

legal costsBulgarian ex-energy minister charged over nuclear project   17 Nov 16, Bulgarian prosecutors charged former economy and energy minister Rumen Ovcharov on Thursday with mismanagement that led to state losses of more than 190 million euros ($200 million) related to a canceled nuclear power project with Russia’s Atomstroyexport.

Bulgaria canceled the 10-billion-euro Belene project on the Danube River in 2012 after failing to find foreign investors and under pressure from Brussels and Washington to limit its energy dependence on Russia.

An arbitration court has ruled Bulgaria needs to pay over 600 million euros in compensation to Atomstroyexport over the project, which analysts and politicians say reflects widespread corruption in the Balkan country.

Prosecutors charged Ovcharov, energy minister from 2005 to 2007 in a Socialist-led government, for failing to exercise sufficient control over the executive directors of state energy company NEK and allowing them to sign a deal with Atomstroyexport for the nuclear power plant at Belene.

The prosecutors said that in November 2006 NEK’s chief executives signed a 193 million euro agreement with the Russian company to start work on the project in breach of public procurement laws and before the plant’s financing was agreed.

Prosecutors have already pressed similar charges against Ovcharov’s successor, former economy and energy minister Petar Dimitrov.

 Last month the former directors of NEK, Lubomir Velkov and Mardik Papazian, were charged with causing financial damage by signing another deal with Atomstroyexport, costing the business more than 77 million euros.

Ovcharov has previously denied any wrongdoing. He was not immediately available for comment.

 Prosecutors are expected to charge Delyan Dobrev, energy minister in the centrist government of Boiko Borisov, for failing to take steps to stop payments to a consultant company engaged with the Belene project after it was canceled. (Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Adrian Croft/Ruth Pitchford)

November 18, 2016 Posted by | Bulgaria, Legal | Leave a comment