* Atomstroyexport will not seek compensation on Belene
* Gazprom agreed price discount for Bulgaria’s gas supply
By Angel Krasimirov
SOFIA, March 30 (Reuters) - Russian nuclear power plant builder Atomstroyexport will not seek compensation from Bulgaria after Sofia dropped plans for a power station at Belene the company had been contracted to build, the economy minister said.
“We will only pay for what has been built so far,” Bulgarian Economy and Energy Minister Delyan Dobrev told a news conference late on Friday, soon after returning from Russia. “Working groups from Atomstroyexport and (Bulgarian state utility) NEK will make all the calculation until the end of April.”
Local media reported that Bulgaria should pay Russia some 180 million euros ($240.2 million).
Atomstroyexport, which had been contracted to build two 1,000 megawatt reactors, has repeatedly warned Bulgaria the country will have to pay up to 1 billion euros ($1.33 billion) in damages if the project collapses.
Bulgaria abandoned the project because it failed to attract serious foreign investors in the past three years after Germany’s RWE pulled out due to funding concerns.
The Balkan country still plans to pay for one reactor that has already been built and aims to install it at the operational 2,000 MW Kozloduy power plant.
Russia’s Gazprom has agreed to cut natural gas prices to Bulgaria by just over 11 percent at a meeting between Dobrev and Gazprom chief executive Alexei Miller.
Bulgaria covers more than 90 percent of its gas needs with imports from the Russian company.
“Their first proposal was for 4.5 percent cut, then they proposed 8.9 percent and then we reached an agreement for 11.1 percent,” Dobrev said.
He said the two parties agreed to get this discount as of April 1 and it will be valid over the next nine months.
Last week, Bulgaria’s energy watchdog said natural gas prices would rise 12.7 percent - to 699 levs ($476) per 1,000 cubic metres from 620 levs ($422) from April 1 to reflect higher prices of other fuels on international markets.
“Instead we offered full assistance for the South Stream as this is a very important project for Bulgaria,” Dobrev added.
Bulgaria has given the South Stream gas pipeline the status of a national project and declared it an object of national importance, providing opportunities for the speedy construction of the project.
The pipeline is intended to carry up to 63 bcm a year of Russian gas across the Black Sea to Greece, from where it will go to central and southern Europe.
$1 = 1.464 levs Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; editing by Andre Grenon