Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Romania nuclear units could be delayed past 2017

BUCHAREST, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Two planned units at Romania's sole nuclear power plant could be delayed past the current 2017 deadline, an economy ministry official said on Wednesday.

Romania, which already has two 706 megawatt reactors at its Cernavoda plant -- accounting for a fifth of its power output -- planned to build the reactors in partnership with six firms.

But the project took a hit after Germany's RWE (RWEG.DE: Quote), Spain's Iberdrola (IBE.MC: Quote) and French GDF Suez (GSZ.PA: Quote) withdrew last month, following the departure of Czech CEZ (CEZPsp.PR:Quote).

Romania is now left shouldering a heavier share of the project, estimated at roughly 4 billion euros and has said it will seek new investors.

"A delay is possible because the preparation part takes longer than estimated," ministry adviser Tudor Serban told reporters on the sidelines of a financial seminar.

Analysts have said the delay poses risks to future supplies, as Romania will need to shut down and replace a third of its power units by 2020. Its last major power generation project was its second nuclear unit which went on stream in 2007.

Serban said South Korean, Chinese, Russian and American firms, including Bechtel, had shown interest in partnering the state for the units, but no definite intentions were announced.

Asked whether its remaining partners, Italy's Enel (ENEI.MI: Quote) and a local unit of ArcelorMittal (ISPA.AS: Quote), were interested in raising their stakes in the units, Serban said: "In theory, yes. In fact, they want to know the extent to which the Romanian government is committed to the project."

Serban also said the ministry expected installed wind energy in Romania to jump to up to 3,000 megawatts in the next two-three years. (Reporting by Luiza Ilie; editing by James Jukwey)

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