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Bulgaria to start talks with US on nuclear technology

Bulgaria to start talks with US on nuclear technology

Sofia, October 16 - Neftegaz.RU. The Bulgaria’s government gave state-owned energy company Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH) a mandate to start talks with US companies that develop nuclear technologies to study the options for the building of a new reactor, Energy Minister Temenuzka Petkova said. This followed remarks the previous day by PM Boyko Borissov, during a visit to the Kozloduy NPP, that a new reactor at the site should be based on US technology.

SofiaGlobe reported that the talks would concern building a new facility at the secondary site at Kozloduy, which received regulatory approval from Bulgaria’s nuclear watchdog in February 2020, following an environmental impact assessment. BEH is the umbrella corporation for state-owned government companies in the energy sector, including Bulgaria’s sole NPP at Kozloduy.

Petkova is required to report on the outcome of the talks to the Cabinet by January 31 2021, according to the decision.

Speaking to reporters after the weekly Cabinet sitting, Petkova said that the process could include companies developing small modular reactors, but added that it was too early to discuss any details regarding the proposed facility, as the exploratory talks were meant to identify all available options.

Over the years, Bulgaria has sought repeatedly to expand Kozloduy’s nuclear capacity, alongside efforts to extend the life-cycle of the two 1000MW units currently in operation.

In August 2014, the socialist-backed Plamen Oresharski administration signed an agreement with Westinghouse to build a new 1000MW reactor at Kozloduy just days before leaving office. The total costs of the project were estimated at $7.7 billion.

That agreement was allowed to lapse in April 2015, during the 2nd Boiko Borissov administration. Later, Borissov’s 3rd government opted to resurrect plans to build a new NPP at Belene, which was shelved in 2012 by the 1st Borissov Cabinet.

That project is still ongoing, Petkova said, blaming the current delay in picking a strategic investor from its shortlist of five bidders on the Covid-19 pandemic, which has required a “full re-organisation” of the process.