American companies are showing increased interest in various energy projects in Bulgaria and are researching their investment options, the new Bulgarian Ambassador to the USA, Elena Poptodorova told Novinite.com (Sofia News Agency) in an exclusive interview.
Her Excellency, who just started her second term as Bulgaria’s Ambassador in Washington, DC, after serving at the same position in 2002-2008, has pointed out that nuclear energy, renewable energy, and shale gas extraction are being considered by large-scale US companies as investment options in Bulgaria.
Upon presenting her letters of accreditation to the US President Barack Obama earlier in August, Poptodorova called for enhanced US participation in energy projects in Southeast Europe.
“Energy cooperation has quickly become a priority area in Bulgarian-American relations alongside the need to amplify the entire economic and investment sector. This is work in progress. Bulgaria’s Deputy Minister for energy Marii Kossev was in Washington DC this week to take part in a shale gas conference. Obviously, this is one of the areas where more US companies show interest. Nuclear and renewable energy are also a possibility. But as I said, we are in a study mode,” Poptodorova explained.
In her words, a potential expansion of Bulgaria’s only operational nuclear power plant at Kozloduy would certainly generate substantial interest among American energy giants.
“NPP Kozloduy is always on the agenda, and big American companies, including Westinghouse, will definitely be interested if and when a bidding process is started,” the new Bulgarian Ambassador to the US said.
Bulgarian Minister of Economy, Energy, and Tourism Traicho Traikov recently said that the Borisov Cabinet may consider the construction of a third 1000 MW reactor at Kozloduy (and seventh unit at the plant overall). During his visit to the US in the late spring of 2010, he made it clear Westinghouse demonstrated interest in such a project.
US Ambassador to Bulgaria James Warlick has recently made public the interest of American companies in shale gas extraction projects in Bulgaria.
“I will be meeting with Chevron’s Vice-President Ian Macdonald on September 10. I will know more after the meeting,” Poptodorova told Novinite.com (Sofia News Agency) when asked about how US oil and gas giants view the large-scale future pipeline projects in Bulgaria – such as the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline.
Unconfirmed reports say Chevron and Exxon Mobil would consider acquiring shares the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipe, a Bulgarian-Greek-Russian project for transporting oil from the Black Sea and Caspian region to the Mediterranean by going around the Turkish Straits.
With respect to the potential of the Bulgarian economy for attracting US investments in all sectors, Poptodorova said Bulgaria must try to come up with “irresistible” offers such as manufacturing final products and selling them to third countries, and identifying projects of regional scope.
“There is yet another unexplored opportunity. I keep urging the Bulgarian companies to reach out directly to the mid-states in America, and look for partners there. The two coasts are somewhat spoiled – with all the attention they usually get. But there are smaller places which are eager to have international outreach, and this is one more opportunity for our businesses,” said the Bulgarian Ambassador to the US.
“Bulgaria will continue to be appreciated as an ally and a source of regional expertise,” she declared with respect to wider diplomatic and security cooperation with the USA.