Bulgaria halts negotiations with French EDF for Belene NPP

Negotiations with French EDF for the Belene Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) have come to a standstill. Bulgaria’s Energy Committee Chairman, Delyan Dobrev, announced that Bulgaria will no longer purchase Russian nuclear fuel. Energy Minister Rumen Radev clarified during a parliamentary committee hearing that the negotiations with EDF have been frozen while experts assess the equipment’s value. He emphasized that the parliament’s decision to engage in talks with Ukraine does not impose an obligation to sell the existing equipment.

Radev stated that all possibilities are being considered in this matter. The caretaker government has drafted a contract to analyze the potential utilization of the Belene NPP site with its current parameters and what EDF could offer. However, it is unlikely that the French company will opt for upgrading the supplied equipment with their own technology, given that they primarily specialize in manufacturing nuclear equipment.

The meeting also addressed the issue of alternative fuel for the Kozloduy NPP. Chairman Delyan Dobrev reminded attendees of the National Assembly’s decision to cease purchasing fuel from “Rosatom,” necessitating contracts with Westinghouse and Framatome for fuel supply. The French company’s cartridges are licensed by Russia’s TVEL, which means they do not require an additional license from the Nuclear Regulatory Agency (NRA). It was previously decided that the fuel should contain no Russian components.

Currently, Bulgaria has an active contract with Russia for nuclear fuel supply until the spring of 2024 for the fifth unit of the plant and until 2035 for the sixth unit. The fifth unit has already been loaded with the last batch of Russian fuel this spring, and Westinghouse cartridges are planned to be used in the upcoming campaign, although they are yet to receive an NRA license.

The NRA stated that, if necessary, the unit’s operation can be ensured using the fuel intended for the sixth unit, for which permission has been granted for use in the fifth unit as well.

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