Enel’s Slovak Nuclear Project Faces Fresh Delay

Enel SpA’s nuclear project in Slovakia may miss its latest deadline by as many as nine months because more time is needed to upgrade its safety features, according to the country’s nuclear watchdog.

The first of the two new reactors at the Mochovce nuclear power station, which was supposed to be completed by the end of this year, won’t come online until sometime in the first nine months of 2015, the regulator’s spokeswoman Zuzana Hostovecka said in an e-mailed statement.

It is the latest in a series of delays and cost overruns the project has faced since the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima, which forced utilities worldwide to adopt stricter and costlier safety measures. After more than a year of disputes with the Slovak government, which holds a 34 percent stake in Slovenske Elektrarne AS, Enel won an approval to boost the Mochovce budget to 3.8 billion euros ($5.1 billion) from the original 2.4 billion euros approved in 2007.

“Given the construction timetable, provided by Slovenske Elektrarne, it’s expected that the plant will start by the end of the first half or in the third quarter of next year,” the Slovak nuclear regulator said in the statement.

Enel is evaluating the impact of stress tests on the project’s schedule and budget, a company spokeswoman said in an e-mailed message. The Italian utility won’t have a precise timing for Mochovce until the summer, she said.

Russian Loan

Enel negotiated an 870 million-euro loan facility from Russian lender OAO Sberbank, payable in 7 1/2 years, the bank said today. Neither party specified the funding currency.

Slovak Premier Robert Fico has attacked Enel for raising the cost of living, while his administration has imposed tax surcharges on energy companies. He also criticized sales of state companies, including the deal handing Slovenske Elektrarne to Enel under his predecessor Mikulas Dzurinda.

The Italian utility bought its 66 percent stake for 840 million euros in 2006, expecting to finish the Soviet-designed reactors in 2013. The Slovak unit also operates two older reactors at Mochovce and two at Jaslovske Bohunice, as well as an aging fleet of unprofitable Slovak coal-fired plants, with total capacity of 5.74 gigawatts as of 2013.

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