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Bulgaria to revive Belene nuclear power project with private help

Cranes are seen in the background at the construction site of Bulgaria's second nuclear power plant in Belene, some 230 km (143 miles) north of Sofia, January 24, 2013. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgaria wants private investors to help it restart the Belene nuclear power project after a court ruled Sofia must pay hefty compensation to Russia over equipment ordered for it, Prime Minister Boiko Borisov said on Friday.

The Balkan country had canceled the 2,000 megawatt project on the Danube River in 2012 due to financial constraints and after pressure from Brussels and Washington, who said it would only increase Bulgaria’s dependence on Russian energy imports.

An international arbitration court ruled in June that Sofia should pay more than 550 million euros ($623 million) in compensation to Russian nuclear giant Rosatom over the two nuclear reactors ordered.

“We have a very changed situation,” Borisov told local media. “We are obliged to pay for these two reactors.”

Borisov, however, said that the Black Sea state still does not have enough financial resources to build the nuclear plant.

“Let us make it a private project through the privatization agency with various options for the state’s share. This is the solution,” he said.

Bulgaria had been hoping to sell the equipment or the whole project to Iran and Borisov visited Tehran in July to test the ground for a possible deal, for which the consent of Rosatom was also needed.

Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova and Angel Krasimirov