Fuel Prices in Bulgaria to Stabilize at Current Levels - Energy Minister
April 24, 2012
Energy Minister Delyan Dobrev has rejected claims that the cost of transferring the reactor earmarked for the Belene NPP to the Kozloduy NPP will be costlier than the implementation of the scrapped Belene project.
Photo by Sofia Photo Agency
Fuel prices in Bulgaria will stabilize around their current levels, according to Delyan Dobrev, Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism.
In a Tuesday interview for private TV station Nova TV, he explained that high fuel prices were driven by the cost of crude oil on international markets and the high excise tax rates in the EU.
Dobrev spoke about the dangers inherent in price-fixing agreements but assured that the state had mechanisms to impose stringent penalties for the infringement.
The Energy Minister opposed EU plans to increase excise tax rates on diesel.
"Excise tax rates in Europe are higher than in the US but Bulgaria is a full-fledged member of the EU and can therefore defend its interests within the Council of the European Union," Dobrev added.
Commenting on biodiesel, he advised against "measures of last resort" in environmental protection.
Dobrev went on to say that the money for the Belene NPP project had long been spent because the equipment had been ordered before the issuance of a construction permit and Bulgaria was now paying a loan for this.
A report of Belene NPP consultant HSBC published Monday stated that the N-plant would have cost been EUR 10.35 B, or over BGN 22 B, under the most optimistic scenario.
Dobrev, however, ruled out such an option as "impossible", given the current condition of financial markets.
Bulgaria's Energy Minister suggested that the cost of the suspended nuclear power plant project could have reached EUR 30 B.
"Apart from the fact that Belene NPP proved to be costlier than what we had been told, we also had no plan for its construction," the Minister observed.
Dobrev reminded that the HSBC report contained a price tag for the electricity that would have been generated by the Belene NPP - EUR 75 per MW/h, or BGN 150.
The Energy Minister rejected allegations that that the installation of the nuclear reactor initially earmarked for the Belene NPP at the Kozloduy NPP would cost as much as the scrapped Belene project.
He said that the costs for the transfer of the reactor as a a seventh unit at the Kozloduy NPP would amount to tens of millions, rather than billions, that would have been necessary for the Belene N-plant.
Dobrev further dismissed claims that the national power utility NEK was facing bankruptcy due to the EUR 250 M loan taken from six banks for purchasing equipment for the Belene NPP.
He specified that two of the six banks were against a loan extension and the money that was urgently needed was EUR 55 M.
The Energy Minister explained that the government was doing its best to find additional funding to pay back the money to those banks.
"It is a tough situation but I am sure we will find a solution," he concluded.