16 Sep 2009 13:52

Shmatko: Russia interested in Bulgarian proposal to invest in nuclear plant project

MOSCOW. Sept 16 (Interfax) - Russia is ready to examine Bulgarian proposals on participating financially in the construction of the Belene Nuclear Power Plant if the state sells its stake in the project, Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko told journalists.

"We have heard about the proposal from the Bulgarian side, which wants to either sell its stake or a part of its stake in the project on the open market. We are interested in considering these proposals on investment participation in the project," he said.

Shmatko said it is still premature to talk about the project's final cost. Earlier reports that the project cost 10 billion euros are not official and not in line with the Energy Ministry's calculations, he said. "The issue of Belene's cost exists more in the public for now and is connected with appraisals for similar facilities throughout the world. We have heard the figure 10 billion euros, but our calculations are slightly different," he said.

The uncertainty surrounding the appraisals can be attributed to a lack of clarity over the sources of financing for the project in addition to interest rates on borrowed funds, he said. "The cost of construction will to a large degree be determined by the final interest rate. We will discuss this issue, and the faster we sit down to the negotiating table, the earlier we'll reach a decision on it and the earlier the project will be carried out," he said.

Shmatko said he will hold talks on Friday with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and Energy Minister Traicho Traikov on the realization of energy projects in Bulgaria. The officials will discuss the Belene NPP, the construction of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline and the South Stream gas pipeline.

"I am confident that we will find arguments that will allow the Bulgarian leadership to form a positive position on participation in these projects with Russia," Shmatko said.

The Belene Nuclear Power Plant, which will have two generating units with capacity of more than one gigawatt each, is being built by Russia's Atomstroyexport with Areva NP and Siemens supplying equipment for the project. Contractual work in the project costs about 4 billion euros excluding inflation.