Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said during Cabinet's Wednesday meeting that negotiations will be held with potential Belene N-plant buyers and investors, only if they do not require guarantees for the compulsory purchase of electricity generated by the N-plant. He added that there will be no State guarantee, meaning that the State will not be bound to make any payments whatsoever as part of this deal.
Bulgaria can participate in a joint venture only after the amount it has spent on the N-plant so far is written off as state-owned assets from the National Electricity Company, the Prime Minister said, adding that currently the State is not mandated to conduct any negotiations with future investors because of the moratorium on the N-plant's construction. He explained that many State-owned and private companies from various countries have already expressed interest in the project.
According to Borissov, Bulgarian taxpayers have invested over 3.5 billion leva in a site and equipment, which will depreciate if no measures are taken on time.
Although the service life of the Kozloduy N-plant's units 5 and 6 was extended, there might be pressure to close them down in the future, Borissov said. "Imagine the energy system today being deprived of 2,000 MW. Left only on coal and green energy. This could force us to start importing electricity ten years down the road," Borissov commented. He added that there is even a war being waged in Brussels over the coal-derived power, so that the life of the thermal power plants in the Maritsa basin can be extended.
Energy Minister Temenouzhka Petkova also commented before journalists that a new procedure must be developed for the selection of a strategic investor in the Belene N-plant, which can guarantee maximum publicity, transparency and objective criteria. This procedure can be used to test the tangibility of the investment interest in the project. No such negotiations would be possible without first talking with Rosatom, which is the equipment's manufacturer. She was speaking after taking part in an international conference on macro-regional cooperation in the fields of tourism and energy.
Petkova did not comment whether the matter will be discussed during Prime Minister Borissov's upcoming visit to Moscow or whether she will accompany him.
The Energy Minister recalled that the China National Nuclear Corporation and the French Framatome company have expressed interest in participating in the Belene N-plant project's implementation.
She also noted that Parliament has assigned her to draft a report on the different options and possibilities for the rational utilization of the project's assets, which will be presented back in Parliament, and not in Moscow, referring to such information being circulated by the media. It remains to be seen if Parliament gives the green light, before preparations for the development of a procedure for selecting a strategic investor can be started, which in her words, will be a long process.
Petkova declined to comment President Rumen Radev's idea about the so called Bulgarian Stream. The Bulgarian Government has been working for years to preserve this country's strategic role and place on Europe's gas map, she said, adding that the results can be seen.