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Energy Crisis: Greece in Talks with Bulgaria Over Joint Nuclear Project

nuclear plant in Bulgaria
The Kozloduy nuclear power plant in Bulgaria. Credit: Vislupus,  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0/Wikipedia

Greece is in talks with Bulgaria on building a new nuclear power plant on Bulgarian territory to also be used by Greece in order to cover part of its energy needs.

Bulgaria’s Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Asen Vassilev, announced on Sunday that talks have begun to sign a long-term 20-year contract with Greece.

A Bulgarian ministerial delegation visited Athens last week to discuss the project. Romania also plans to build a new nuclear plant.

According to a report in Euractiv, Bulgaria has two Russian nuclear reactors, which were ordered and delivered, but have remained unused for three years. The new Bulgarian government has signaled it is ready to build a new nuclear reactor at the existing Kozloduy power plant.

The news, announced by the deputy prime minister, means that with the help of Greece, the project for a second nuclear power plant near Belene could be revived.

Vassilev also said that Bulgaria will become a shareholder in the port of Alexandroupoli and will have access to the Aegean Sea. The country currently has a stake in the liquefied gas terminal in Alexandroupolis.

Energy crisis deepens after the Russian invasion of Ukraine

The talks between Athens and Sofia come as Greece and the rest of Europe face an energy crisis that many fear would spiral out of control after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Greece on Monday proposed setting up a European Union fund to provide low-interest loans to help governments finance measures to tackle high energy prices, as EU energy ministers discussed preparations for potential energy supply shocks and measures to shore up gas stocks following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Soaring gas prices in recent months have resulted in higher bills for households and industries, prompting governments in most of the EU’s 27 countries to offer subsidies and tax breaks.

Greece has extended the financial relief offered to businesses and households due to the rising energy costs.

PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced that the government will allocate another 400 million euros ($452 million), covering a significant part of the increases in electricity bills, in January alone.

“For another month the government will support households, farmers, and businesses in the face of the global energy turmoil,” he said.

“We must not underestimate the consequences of the Russian invasion on energy prices and energy security,” Greece’s Energy Minister Kostas Skrekas said.

The European Commission has said Europe could cope with a short-term disruption to Russian gas flows.

Analysts say a complete or prolonged halt would have severe economic repercussions, requiring emergency measures such as factory closures.

Russia supplies around 40% of Europe’s gas. EU rules require all member countries to have a plan to respond to gas supply shocks.

Related: Energy Map Changes After Israel, Cyprus and Greece Electricity Link

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