Russia has given Bulgaria its final price offer for the construction of the Belene nuclear power plant, which has been delayed by financing issues. Bulgaria will now consider whether to accept the price and move ahead with the project.

The project, which would see two 1000 MWe VVER reactors built at Belene, was discussed by Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin and Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borisov during a meeting in Sofia on 13 November.

Belene’s initial price tag was estimated by supplier Russian state nuclear enterprise Rosatom, as being €4 billion ($5.5 billion), but an inflation target for the project was not included in this estimate. However, the Bulgarian government has since concluded that the more realistic price could be anything ranging from €6 billion ($8.2 billion) to €10 billion ($13.7 billion). In October, Bulgaria put a maximum price tag of €7 billion ($9.5 billion) on the Belene nuclear power plant.

Borisov noted, “The price of €4 billion for the construction of Belene is not correct. That is why we requested that experts from both countries determine a final, set price, calculating the interest, so that we know that Belene will cost this many and this many billions. This is when we will announce the final prices.” He added, “We agreed with prime minister Putin to have the experts continue their work on the Belene NPP in order to have the cheapest and most reliable nuclear plant in Europe.”

“We need to know, to calculate the total cost of the Belene plant, which includes the cost of the adjacent infrastructure, the credits and interest,” Borisov stated.

Speaking at a press conference following the meeting, Putin said: “The Bulgarian side insisted that we name a final price for the construction of the Belene nuclear power plant, and we are ready to do that right now.” He added, “But I cannot reveal this price because we have to coordinate it with Bulgaria first. We have presented the final figures to the Bulgarian side, now Bulgaria has to do its calculations, and let us know.”

“We understand the position of the prime minister of Bulgaria, who wants to make Belene an international project,” Putin said. “We believe that leading European companies will be attracted to participate, and we will discuss all details that Bulgaria deems important.”

He added, “This project is big, wide, and needs a lot of big finance. The Russian side is ready to implement it in optimized mode for Bulgaria — the provision of credit resources, equipment supply, with the support of local businesses to join other Western European companies in this project, the supply of fuel and utilize it after this.”

During the meeting, it was agreed that approval for the technical design for the construction of the Belene plant would be given by the end of 2010.

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