(Adds detail, background)
SOFIA Dec 11 State-run Bulgarian Energy Holding
(BEH) won government approval on Wednesday to start talks with
Japan's Toshiba Corp about the construction of a new
reactor at the Kozloduy nuclear power plant.
The Socialist-led government said in a statement the Balkan
country aimed to build one 1,000- or 1,200-megawatt
water-pressurised AP 1000 III+ reactor produced by Westinghouse,
the U.S. unit of Toshiba Corp.
Bulgaria is one of the few European Union counties pursuing
new reactor projects in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in
Japan in 2011 and Germany's move to phase out nuclear power.
Energy Minister Dragomir Stoynev said the U.S. technology
met the highest safety standards and would help Bulgaria
diversify its nuclear energy base. The country operates two
Soviet-made 1,000 megawatt units at Kozloduy on the Danube.
"Toshiba Corporation has already expressed investor interest
for the new unit and we also see the Westinghouse reactor as
answering all safety questions," Stoynev told reporters after a
Stoynev said the talks with Toshiba were expected to
conclude by September 2014, with the company providing about 30
percent of the financing for the new reactor, whose cost
industry officials estimate at up to $8 billion.
Toshiba and Westinghouse were also expected to help secure
the remaining 70 percent of the financing from U.S. Eximbank and
Japan Bank for International Cooperation, he said.
The country's previous cabinet hired Westinghouse to prepare
a proposal for the new reactor, having shelved plans to build a
new, 2,000-MW nuclear power station at Belene costing 10 billion
euros after failing to attract western investors.
Russia's Atomstroyexport, which Bulgaria had contracted to
build Belene, has taken the country to an arbitration court,
seeking 1 billion euros ($1.38 billion) in compensation for lost
work on the suspended project.
($1 = 0.7261 euros)
(Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; editing by Jason Neely and Tom