Bulgaria shortlists GE, others for nuclear plant contract

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Bulgaria has shortlisted General Electric and four other international companies as candidates for a contract to build a new nuclear power plant in the Balkan country.

Energy minister Temenuzhka Petkova said Thursday that Russia’s Rosatom, China’s CNNC and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co will also be invited to file binding offers to build the 10 billion-euro ($11 billion) project by the end of April.

General Electric is working with France’s Framatome in their application to finance and supply equipment for the 2,000-megawatt plant near Belene on the Danube River.

Confidential agreements with the companies are due to be signed next month, the minister said, adding that Bulgaria wants to keep a blocking stake in the venture but it will not provide state guarantees or offer to buy electricity from the plant.

Bulgaria had abandoned the project in 2012 after failing to find investors and bowing to Western pressure to lessen its almost total energy dependence on Russia.

But Bulgaria had already received two prepaid 1,000 megawatt reactors from Russia’s Atomstroyexport and subsequent attempts to sell off the equipment failed, which led to last year’s vote in parliament to revive the project.

Currently, the Balkan country’s only nuclear plant, at Kozloduy, with two Soviet-built 1,000 megawatt reactors, supplies 35% of the country’s electricity.