Bulgaria Backs State Aid for Electricity Company’s Rosatom Debt

  • State company owes $700 million for canceled nuclear project
  • Bulgaria seeks to repay part of Rosatom debt this year

Bulgaria’s parliament voted in favor of financial aid for the state-owned National Electricity Company as it seeks to prevent the Balkan country’s energy sector from collapsing over an unpaid 629-million euro ($700 million) debt to Rosatom Corp. for a scrapped nuclear project.

Lawmakers voted 132 to 2 with 6 abstentions to adopt a special bill that will allow the Energy Ministry to transfer money from the fiscal reserve to National Electricity, Deputy Speaker Dimitar Glavchev told lawmakers in Sofia on Wednesday. The bill, which has yet to pass a final item-by-item approval next week, didn’t specify the amount of state aid to be provided.

The aid will be used to repay the debt to Russia’s state-owned nuclear company after an arbitration court ruled in June that National Electricity should pay for reactors and other equipment produced for an unbuilt 2,000-megawatt nuclear plant in Belene on the Danube. The government scrapped the project in 2012 after a dispute with Rosatom over the cost, then estimated at 10 billion euros.

A failure to pay the rising debt “would pose a very serious risk to the financial stability of the National Electricity Company and the whole energy sector,” Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova told lawmakers.

Bulgaria plans to repay 400 million euros to Rosatom Corp. by the end of this year once it gets the European Union’s approval for the state aid, Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova said on Tuesday. The country will then pay the rest in several tranches, she said.

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