Russia Eyes Bulgaria’s National Electricity Company Assets

Russia Eyes Bulgaria’s National Electricity Company Assets

Russia's Rosatom is considering acquiring assets of Bulgaria's National Electricity Company, NEK, as compensation for Sofia's scrapping the Belene nuclear power project.

According to unnamed Rosatom sources, the large size of the compensations that Russia is seeking and the arguments supporting its claim, which they consider "serious", could lead to NEK's bankruptcy and in that case Rosatom would consider getting NEK assets, state-run Bulgarian National Television reported on Tuesday quoting reports in Russian media.

Last week Rosatom's subsidiary Atomstroyexport said it had lodged with the International Court of Arbitration in Paris a claim for 1.0 billion euro ($1.3 billion) as compensation for Bulgaria's decision to abandon the Belene project.

Russia is trying to tighten the noose around Bulgaria's energy independence, Dian Chervenkondev, deputy chairman of Bulgaria's ruling centre-right party GERB commented before the state-run Bulgarian National Radio (BNR).

Earlier in the day, BNR reported that Rosatom had said it would not provide any information about its equipment to U.S.-based Westinghouse, which Bulgaria has hired to carry out a feasibility study on installing the Russian reactor designated for the Belene plant at the already existing power site in Kozloduy. BNR cited Russian media reports according to which Russia would never submit any documents to Westinghouse as the U.S. company is a subsidiary of Japan's Toshiba, in turn engaged in the development of nuclear energy projects.

The Belene nuclear power station project had been mothballed for nearly two decades before Bulgaria decided to resurrect it and hired Atomstroyexport in 2008 to build the 2,000 megawatt (MW) facility. After the project made scant headway, the government in Sofia decided in March to abandon it altogether, choosing instead to add a new 1,000 MW reactor to its existing nuclear power station in Kozloduy.  

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