Russia Extends Role in Bulgaria’s Nuclear Sector via the Kozloduy NPP, Ahead of Bulgaria’s Impending Decision on the Belene NPP Contract

On March 26, 2020, Rusatom Service (part of Rosatom) won a $19.2 million contract for the modernization of neutron-flux monitoring equipment in Units 4 and 5 of the Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in Bulgaria.  Three other Russian entities OKB Gidropress (aka Hydropress), Kurchatov Institute, and SNIIP — Systematom will also be involved in the project.

The Kozloduy NPP is Bulgaria’s sole operational nuclear plant and supplies approximately 30% of the country’s total electricity demand.  The NPP is comprised of two Soviet-designed VVER-1000 reactors and remains dependent on Rosatom for maintenance and refueling activities.  In October 2019, the Bulgarian Ministry of Energy extended the lifespan of Unit 6 by 30 years and extended Rusatom Service’s operational license for the plant by 10 years.  In 2017, Unit 5 of the NPP also received an operational license for 10 years as a result of a modernization project concluded by Rosatom.

Notably, Rosatom is also a contender to lead the construction of Bulgaria’s envisaged Belene NPP,  a new nuclear power plant that is expected to supplement, and eventually replace, the aging Kozloduy NPP.  Many believe that Rosatom is poised to win this business, retaining its long-term strategic influence over Bulgaria’s power sector and a key, influential position in the country’s economy.  Bulgarian officials are expected to decide on a contractor for the project by the end of May 2020.