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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Talks Begin in Nuclear Power Pact

SOFIA -- Bulgaria is discussing a new agreement with Russia in the energy field, including the establishment of a joint venture in nuclear power, Bulgaria's Energy Committee said Monday.

A committee statement said that negotiations on the pact had been held in Sofia between its chairman Nikita Shervashidze and a Russian government delegation that is headed by Deputy Foreign Trade Minister Yury Grekov.

The negotiations will be the last stage before signing the agreement.

Bulgaria, short of energy resources and with a current peak demand of more than 7,000 megawatts, depends on its Soviet-designed nuclear power plant at Kozloduy for up to 40 percent of its power needs.

The Russian delegation has shown interest in supplying equipment for a second nuclear power plant at Belene, where construction was halted in 1991 due to popular opposition and a lack of funds, the committee said.

Some of Kozloduy's oldest reactors are expected to be closed at the end of the century and there are plans to complete the construction of the Belene plant to back up Kozloduy.

Furthermore, a rise in demand to over 8,000 megawatts is projected by the year 2000.

Officials say that more than $1.2 million has already been spent on Belene, which is projected to have two 1,000-megawatt reactors.

One Russian-designed 1,000-megawatt reactor is on the site, situated next to the plant's partially completed foundation work.

The statement quoted Shervashidze as saying that the completion of

the Belene plant was virtually impossible without Russian participation, as all of its main equipment would be Russian.

He said finding investments was a serious problem and is hopeful that he can attract a number of Western investors.

The Russian delegation is due to make an official visit to the plant at Kozloduy on Wednesday.