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Bulgaria secures one-year extension on Belene loan - minister

Author: The Sofia Echo staff Date: Mon, May 07 2012 1 Comment, 20959 Views
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Bulgaria has secured a one-year extension to repay the 250 million euro bridge loan arranged by BNP Paribas to fund preliminary work on the planned Belene nuclear power plant on the Danube River, Economy Minister Delyan Dobrev said on May 7, as quoted by Focus news agency.

The option to postpone the due date was contingent on securing 55 million euro for immediate repayment of the amounts loaned by Belgium's Dexia and Japanese bank Mizuho. The funds will be provided to state electricity utility NEK, which contracted the BNP Paribas loan, from its parent company, Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH), as a loan, Dobrev said.

Creditors have already agreed to the extension and the board of directors at both BEH and NEK have approved the loan.

Bulgaria decided in March to cancel the contract with Russia's Atomstroyexport to build two 1000MW nuclear units at Belene, citing the rising costs of the project and the uncertainty surrounding the cost and availability of funding.

Instead, a gas-powered power plant would be built on the site, while the equipment already built by Atomstroyexport would be used in a seventh unit at Bulgaria's Kozloduy nuclear power plant, which would cost significantly less than building the new infrastructure at Belene.

It was unclear how much Bulgaria owed Russian companies for the reactor, but Dobrev said that he did not expect the amount to be a "surprise".

Bulgaria is yet to begin the formal preparations for the installation of the new reactor at Kozloduy, but Dobrev said that a project company would be registered "in the near future".

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