Bulgaria to press Russia for new halt of nuclear plant

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Bulgaria said Friday it will press Russia for a new halt on talks over a planned nuclear plant in south-central Belene until September to allow time for an economic feasibility study.

"We will propose to again freeze talks on the Belene project for three months," Economy and Energy Minister Traicho Traikov told journalists on the sidelines of an energy forum in Sofia.

According to the minister, this will allow the project's consultant, British-based global banking giant HSBC, to finish an economic feasibility study of the project.

Bulgaria is also awaiting a detailed analysis by HSBC of the 6.3 billion euro ($9.0 billion) price tag proposed by the plant's Russian builder Atomstroyexport, which the government has so far rejected as too high, Traikov added.

If agreed, this will be the second three-month postponement of the project this year over price haggling and safety concerns following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.

The first postponement deadline for Belene is due to expire at the end of June.

The long-stalled project for a 2,000-megawatt plant on the Danube was planned to compensate for lost capacity at Bulgaria's only nuclear power facility at Kozloduy.

The country was compelled to shut down four of a total six reactors at Kozloduy to secure its European Union accession in 2007, leaving just two 1,000-megawatt nuclear units in operation.

© 2011 AFP

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