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Coronavirus outbreak to delay launch of Bulgaria’s Belene project

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will delay the tender to select a company to build Bulgaria’s Belene nuclear power plant, TASS reported on April 24.

In December, the ministry invited five companies to file binding offers: China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power, Russia's Atomenergoprom, a subsidiary of Rosatom, France's Framatome and US-based General Electric.

According to TASS, Bulgaria has informed Rosatom about the delay of the tender due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The launch of the tender would depend on the easing of restrictions the government has imposed since March 13 when it declared a state of emergency.

Bulgaria started planning the new nuclear power plant long before the current emphasis on reducing carbon emissions began. Plans to build the Belene NPP were scrapped in 2012, but Sofia was forced to reconsider after Bulgaria was ordered to reimburse over €600mn to Atomstroyexport (a unit of Russia’s Rosatom), which had won the contract to build the power plant and had already started work.

The government in Sofia hopes to finish the project within 10 years at a cost of up to €10bn.