Bulgaria to hold second international tender for the Belene nuclear plant


After three construction attempts over nearly 40 years, the Bulgarian government is planning to resume work on the Belene Nuclear Power Plant with the launch of a second international tender for investors. The tender is expected to take place in the coming weeks.

Work on NPP Belene began in 1980s with the first decision to stop its constructions coming in 1992. Bulgaria formally re-started the project in 2002 with Atomstroyexport winning the tender for the EPC contractor in 2006. The German utility RWE won the first international tender in 2008 and signed a contract for a 49% stake in the project company, which it later abandoned.

More recently, an international arbitration forced Bulgaria to pay for the two reactors, which Atomstroyexport delivered to the site. As a result, the Bulgarian government and parliament agreed to initiate an international tender for investors with terms that include no long-term power purchase agreements or state guarantees for bidders.

Over the last two weeks, the Bulgarian Minister of Energy Temenuzhka Petkova has repeatedly announced the tender's re-start, explaining that the Bulgarian state is in need of this nuclear plant in order to meet EU energy-production targets.

The Bulgarian government has already approved the draft framework for the investor selection process, which is made up of nine stages and should be completed by the end of 2019. This draft is not currently available to the public.

Several potential investors, however, have expressed interest in NPP Belene, most recently suppliers of turbines and generators, and include China's CNNC, Korean Hydro and Nuclear Power Corporation, France's Framatome and U.S.-based General Electric.

According to Minister Petkova, the selection process will include:

  • a nine-stage process;
  • no state guarantees;
  • a stipulation that the state will keep majority voting rights (either by holding 34% of the capital or holding 10% of the capital where the company’s statutes allow for specific voting restrictions);
  • an investment amount not exceeding EUR 9 million;
  • an operation date of no later than eight years after work commences;
  • a commitment to the delivery of fresh fuel;
  • only those investors with expertise in working with VVR1000;
  • a commitment to the technical project as reported to the EU Commission in 2007.

A draft framework and other information on the project are expected to be made publicly available in February 2019.

For details on this tender and opportunities in the Bulgarian energy sector, please contact one of our local CMS experts: Kostadin Sirleshtov, Elena Yotova-Yordanova and Borislava Piperkova.