In the latest swirl of statements in his typical style, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has declared that the government will certainly build the second Bulgarian nuclear power plant in Belene.
"Of course, we are going to build Belene, why wouldn't we!" Borisov told the bTV channel Sunday night even though he has stated numerous times that the troubled project for the Belene nuke is not a sure thing.
The past week has indicated that the Bulgarian government and the state National Electric Company NEK on the one hand and the Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom and its subsidiary Atomstroyexport on the other keep failing to agree on a final price for the construction of the NPP.
Under the present arrangements, the 2000-MW Belene NPP is supposed to be built by Rosatom's subsidiary Atomstroyexport. However, Bulgaria and Russia continue to haggle over the price with Russia asking for EUR 6.3 B and Bulgaria willing to pay as little as EUR 5 B.
The apparent stalemate has led Bulgaria's Economy and Energy Minister Traicho Traikov to suggest that the Rosatom equipment already produced for Belene should be installed to build a seventh reactor in Bulgaria's operational NPP in Kozloduy, and that another solution should be found for Belene.
This has led to speculations that other foreign actors such as Chinese companies and the Chinese government might be hoping to snatch the Belene project from the Russians.
"We got two conditions – a state stake of 51%, and not paying any state budget money," Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said on Sunday with respect to the Belene NPP. This differs from his earlier statements where the most often (though not always) recurring motif has been that the nuke will be built only if a "strategic European investor" is found.
When asked if Bulgaria already has a "strategic European investor", Borisov said there were two – a French and a Finnish company referring to non-binding agreements signed in November 2010 with French firm Altran Technologies and Finnish company Fortum.
Borisov also criticized his Economy Minister Traicho Traikov for making several "unfounded statements" over the past week, including that Bulgaria's government will delay its decision whether to go ahead with its second nuclear power plant project or not by at least another three months over concerns about safety and costs.