ilian vassilev

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belene ploshtadka

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  The geopolitical and geo-economic context of the Belene project has changed in many respects, but at the same time, it has retained some permanent and stable features. Some of them stem from the link between the civilian and military nuclear programs of leading countries and from the aspirations of global military-political alliances to “keep an eye on” the development of nuclear energy, not only in respective member states, but also around the world under the nuclear non-proliferation regime. As in the past, the nuclear programs in the military and civilian fields operate in tandem, intertwined at R & D, manufacturing and operational levels.   In fact, civil nuclear power is a by-product of military nuclear programs – which are both natural spin-offs of the nuclear arms race, but also


  Few people envy these days the Bulgarian minister of energy who is tasked with a mission impossible – to identify and offer the Bulgarian government a Houdiniesque escape from the Belene conundrum. The equipment is due on the Belene site later in autumn. Despite allegations in the court of arbitration by the Russian side that the reactor and the equipment are already produced, it was not until NEK paid ASE Euro 610 million on December 9, 2016, that the Russian manufacturer engaged in substance.   For Mrs. Petkova, the Bulgarian energy minister, there does not seem to be an easy way out of the deadlock – there is no decision in sight that would not imply new sunken costs.   The year has seen delegations by “interested” parties visiting


  It is strange to watch that the Bulgarian Energy Holding has opted to push the limits of the patience of the European Commission’s anti-trust body whereas Gazprom has chosen reconciliation.   Concurrently, Russian media are singing praise for Bulgaria, as the only EU member in the CEE that has formally voiced support for Gazprom’s commitment letter – to be used as the basis for a case resolution.   The Directorate-General for Competition is conducting a parallel investigation into BEH on its abuse of a dominant position, which is reminiscent of the case against Gazprom. Easy comparisons might be misleading but rather interesting and revealing.1   The scale of the two cases is incommensurate. There are many nuances, yet the matrix is identical. What is most important – the comparison


  The saga escorting the notorious NPP Belene project is like a ‘Die-Hard-X’ movie – the main character seems immortal. Thousands of pages have been dedicated to the analysis of what went wrong and led to the gravest industrial loss in Bulgaria’s history – BGL 5 billion in direct or indirect losses to the National Electric Company. The ‘sin list’ starts in the very early days – NEK’s first long-term forecast for electricity demand that supposedly evinced the need for a new generating capacity of no less than 2000 megawatts after 2010 – just in time with the predicted construction horizon of the new NPP.   The forecast was wrong on the design board, and it did not take long to prove its irrelevance against totally contradictory actual electricity demand


The unusually cold winter renewed the dispute on the real accomplishments in energy security and diversification of routes and sources of natural gas. However, the energy system’s shortfalls exhibited during sustained high demand levels require a deeper analysis than the usual blend of suppliers’ blues and consumer grievances.  The same adage applies to the interconnectors that should have already brought alternative gas supplies to southeastern European customers – enhancing resilience of gas and energy markets to abrupt shock curves.   Experts’ talk hovers around Gazprom’s evolving strategy, adapting to EC policies, using bilateral levers and price dumping, and the impact of inter-governmental agreements that underwrite its supply and transit contracts in CEE countries.   Whereas Romania, Greece and Turkey have already diversified supply sources, including indigenous gas production and flexible


  The global outbreak of “The Great Depression” in 2008 coincided with a new political order in the region, which resulted from the non-interventionist US foreign policy of the Obama administration. It was then that Turkey became an ambitious regional player.   In 2009, in his book The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century, George Friedman, founder and chairman of Geopolitical Futures and former chairman of Strategic Forecasting, predicted that Turkey will seek to return to its former Ottoman glory  and will in thirty years catch up with Japan economically.   Turkey has huge advantages compared to any other country in the world. It is both a secular and a Muslim country. The country is not isolated geographically and is on the crossway of three continents.  

This entry was posted in The Region and tagged , , , , , , , by Pavel Bandilov.

About Pavel Bandilov

Pavel Bandilov is a financial analyst with more than 15 years of capital markets experience. He has worked for leading investment intermediaries in Bulgaria. Author of “Borsite” blog and market commentator in tv program, “The Day with Veselin Dremdjiev”. Currently, he is a part of the team of “Sofia International Securities”, an investment intermediary with focus on asset management and international markets.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons/ Huw Williams

  On Sunday, May 8, 2016, a long-held dream of Greens around the world seemed to come true. On that day, German wind and solar installations produced enough electricity to satisfy 87% of the consumption of the largest industrial power in Europe. Greens and fellow-travellers rejoiced for here finally was proof positive that clean renewable sources could supply us with all the energy we need and that the days of the hated fossil fuels appeared numbered indeed. Alas, hardly had the hype surrounding this momentous achievement died down, before the renewable claque suffered its greatest defeat in years, a defeat that may put paid to the whole German ‘Energiewende’ (energy transition) experiment that had long been the pride and joy and best hope of environmental zealots the world over. It