The project for the construction of Bulgaria's second nuclear power plant "Belene" is completely ready, according to Kiril Komarov, CEO of the nuclear energy complex of Rosatom and director of Atomenergoproekt.
"The project is fully prepared and no outside factors – save for "political emotions" - can affect it substantially," Komarov told a meeting in the Russian State Duma of its committee for cooperation with the Bulgarian Parliament, as cited by RIA Novosti.
The senior Rosatom executive declared that the project for the Belene nuclear power plant is favorable for both Bulgaria and Russia and would help solidify the strategic and business partnership between the two countries.
"We do hope that all necessary decisions will be made shortly, and that this year we will be able to set up the joint venture, and to start building," Komarov said while also admitting that the Bulgarian-Russian talks over Belene are hard because of haggling for the price.
Just last week, Komarov and Sergey Novikov, spokesperson of the Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom, declared something of an ultimatum for the Bulgarian government – to make a final decision about the construction of the Belene plant – or at least to seal a new agreement for continued talks with Rosatom – by the end of March.
However, with less than a week of left of this deadline, no agreement seems to be in the making, which is why Bulgarian commentators have called the "ultimatum" issued by Rosatom a bluff.
Speaking on Thursday in Moscow, Komarov did stress the economic dimensions of the Belene NPP.
"As of today, Belene is the largest investment project in Bulgaria. It's total cost will be EUR 8 B, which is a colossal investment in the economy of the country. The construction alone will create 5000 jobs, and Bulgaria will get about EUR 1 B in supply orders," Kovarov told the Duma deputies.
It remains unclear how exactly he arrived at the EUR 8 B figure as the final price of the Belene NPP as the current non-binding deal between Bulgaria and Russia is for EUR 6.3 B – the sum that Komarov and Novikov mentioned last week in Sofia – and Bulgaria is said to demand a price of as little as EUR 5 B. He also announced that the construction site in the Bulgarian Danube town of Belene will be ready for the start of the installation of the first 1000-MW reactor about September 15, 2011. The ground for the building of the second reactor will be prepared by July 2012.
"The Belene NPP will be provided with such security systems that are capable of withstanding any extremities without outside power sources, and the participation of people," Komarov said referring to the nuclear safety issue following the situation in Japan.
The only official Bulgarian reaction to the "ultimatum" about the deadline and price offer for Belene issued by Rosatom was a brief comment by Bulgarian Economy and Energy Minister Traicho Traikov, who said that Bulgaria had made it clear it was not satisfied with the price of EUR 6.3 B, and that the talks were continuing.
Later on Wednesday, apparently acting on concerns caused by the situation in Japan's Fukushima NPP after the recent devastating earthquake there, the European Commission confirmed that it wants to reexamine the Belene NPP project - once Bulgaria finds an investor for it - even though it already approved it back in 2007
In February 2011, Bulgarian PM Borisov held talks with the French holding Areva over Belene.
The Areva Holding together with Siemens is actually already involved in the construction of Belene as a subcontractor to Russian state company Atomstroyexport.
For the time being, however, the construction of the 2000-MW Belene NPP remains stalled as Bulgaria and Russia are unable to agree on a final price. In addition to the price, the gravest concern of the Bulgarian Borisov Cabinet has been to find a "strategic European investor."