* Rosatom would build, finance new nuclear blocks-paper
* Hungary’s Paks plant to add new capacity by 2030
* Paks CEO expects at least five bidders-agency (Adds Areva comment)
BUDAPEST, June 5 (Reuters) - Russian state-owned nuclear company Rosatom is keen to expand Hungary’s Paks nuclear power plant, including construction and financing of new generation blocks, a top Rosatom official was quoted as saying in the business daily Napi Gazdasag on Tuesday.
Rosatom would be willing to fully finance the new construction, which is expected to cost about 3 trillion forints ($12.4 billion), the paper quoted Rosatom Deputy Director General Kirill Komarov as saying at Atomexpo, a nuclear power trade fair in Moscow.
Hungary, which needs major new electric plants to augment an ageing fleet of power stations, is expected to issue a construction tender this year for up to 3,000 megawatts (MW) in new nuclear power capacity at the Paks site.
The current plant at Paks, 100 km (60 miles) south of the capital Budapest, uses four Russian-made VVER reactors for a total capacity of 2,000 MW and produces about 40 percent of the country’s electricity.
Paks Chief Executive Officer Istvan Hamvas told Hungarian state news agency MTI in Moscow that he expected at least five participants in the upcoming tender, including Rosatom, as well as France’s Areva, Westinghouse Electric and Japanese and South Korean competitors.
Hamvas said he expected Westinghouse to tout its AP 1000 reactor, Rosatom its VVER 1000 model while Areva would offer its 1,600 MW EPR reactor or its smaller Atmea reactor, developed in tandem with Japan’s Mitsubishi.
An Areva spokesman said the company was interested in participating in the tender.
“As one of the main industrial nuclear players worldwide, Areva always considers any opportunity... and is thus interested in the new build project at the Paks site,” spokesman Maxime Michaut wrote in an emailed reply to Reuters questions.
“Once the tender is launched and documents handed out, Areva will examine them in detail with a view to participate in the process.”
Westinghouse did not immediately reply to requests seeking comment.
The Paks reactors, built in the 1980s, are expected to stay operational until the 2030s after undergoing lifespan extension work.
The new nuclear blocks should come on line between 2020 and 2030, increasing the country’s reliance on nuclear power to 60 percent of the electricity mix.
The government last week created a committee to prepare strategic decisions for the construction headed by Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
Rosatom, through its subsidiary TVEL, is the fuel supplier for Hungary’s existing four Russian-made nuclear power blocks and has also participated in their maintenance.
$1 = 242.1215 Hungarian forints Reporting by Marton Dunai; Editing by Jason Neely and David Cowell