Bulgaria Shortlists 2 for Nuclear Plant

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

(AP) SOFIA, Bulgaria — Bulgaria has shortlisted Germany's RWE Power and Belgian Electrabel SA as strategic investors in a second nuclear plant, the state-owned NEK power utility said Tuesday.

NEK is seeking investors for a stake of up to 49 percent stake in the Belene Power Company, which will own and operate the new nuclear power plant.

The construction of the plant is scheduled to start later this year and its two 1000-megawatt reactors are expected to come into operation by 2014.

"The board of directors of NEK approved Electrabel and RWE as the candidates who had presented the best offers," a statement from the Bulgarian utility said.

The two companies were selected from five bidders. The others were: Enel SpA of Italy, E.ON AG of Germany and CEZ a.s. from the Czech Republic.

In January, Bulgaria signed a nearly 4 billion euro ($6.2 billion) contract with Russia's Atomstroyexport to build a second nuclear plant at Belene, 155 miles northeast of Sofia.

Atomstroyexport will be the main contractor, using France's Areva and Germany's Siemens as primary subcontractors.

Bulgaria's government invested more than $1 billion in Belene, but froze the project in 1990 after environmentalists said it could pose a safety risk.

The project was revived to compensate for the closure of the two units at its existing nuclear plant at Kozlodui as part of its requirements to join the European Union last year.

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