A lawsuit has been filed by Russia's Atomstroyexport, a Rosatom subsidiary, demanding that Bulgaria's National Electric Company (NEK) pay EUR 58 M in arrears for works on the construction of the Belene nuclear power plant.
"As the Bulgarian company is facing hard times, at its request we granted it a delay in payment and agreed to a repayment schedule," an anonymous Atomstroyexport official told RIA Novosti.
He pointed out that the legal action at the International Court of Arbitration in Paris, comes as a result of NEK's failure to pay for already completed works on time.
In a statement early on Friday, Bulgaira's Ministry of Economy, Energy and Tourism has declared that if the Russian side is indeed suing NEK, the country will immediately file a counter lawsuit, adding that it considers it unnecessary to comment on anonymous reports.
At the beginning of July, NEK and Atomstroyexport signed an annex extending by 3 months their contract for the construction of the Belene NPP, which should become the second Bulgarian nuclear power plant.
The newly-signed document effectively provides the two parties with a deadline until September 30, 2011, to hammer out answers to questions related with the technical project for the Belene NPP, the market analysis by the project consultant HSBC, and further progress on the contract for construction and supplies, which is to be made more flexible to meet requirements by potential international investors.
However, it does not contain a commitment to a certain deadline for reaching a final construction deal. The greatest issue over which Bulgaria and Russia have been haggling for the past two years under the Borisov Cabinet has been the price of the project, with Russia insisting it should be no less than EUR 6.3 B, while Bulgaria is demanding a price of no more than EUR 5 B.
An provision in the new annex to the Bulgaria-Russia Belene deal provides for the setting-up of a financial working group of the involved parties to clarify the conditions for funding offered by Russia.