Russia To Insist that Bulgaria Upholds Obligations Under Belene NPP Project

Russia To Insist that Bulgaria Upholds Obligations Under Belene NPP Project

Russian economy minister Sergei Shmatko said Moscow will insist that Bulgaria meets all its obligations under the contract for the construction of the Belene nuclear power plant (NPP).

"Our relations with the Bulgarian authorities in charge of the Belene project are based on legal grounds," state-run Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) quoted Shmatko as saying on Thursday.

Bulgaria faces financial sanctions exceeding $58 million (77 million euro) for halting the project, business daily Dnevnik reported, citing reports in Russian media.

The Belene project, launched in the late 1980s, had been frozen for nearly two decades before Bulgaria hired Russia's Atomstroyexport in 2008 to build the 2,000 megawatt (MW) power plant. However, little progress has been made since due to pricing disagreements between Bulgaria and Russia. Earlier this month, Atomstroyexport said it plans to deliver the first 1,000 MW reactor for the plant in mid-April.

On Wednesday Bulgaria's government decided to halt the Belene project, choosing instead to add a new 1,000 MW reactor to its existing nuclear power station in Kozloduy. A day later Parliament backed the decision, with 120 MPs from the ruling centre-right party GERB and the Blue Coalition voting in favour and 45 MPs from the Bulgarian Socialist Party and ultra nationalist Ataka voting against.

Later today Bulgarian economy minister Delyan Dobrev, who is heading a government delegation to Moscow, is due to meet Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin and Gazprom head Alexei Miller.

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