Thursday, October 18, 2012

Romania asks companies to reconsider nuclear plan

BUCHAREST Oct 17 (Reuters) - Romania has asked four of Europe's largest power companies to reconsider a plan to build two nuclear reactors after it failed to find other investors, the Eastern European nation's deputy economy minister said on Wednesday.

Romania, which must replace a third of its plants by 2020, needs new power generation or faces future supply shortages and rising import costs.

However, many power companies have been scaling back investment in central and eastern Europe in light of the euro zone debt crisis and with a renewed focus on wind and solar capacity.

"Last week there was a meeting and... we decided to retry attracting investors because the reasons why they withdrew are no longer current," deputy Economy Minister Rodin Traicu was quoted as saying by state news agency Agerpres."

"We are waiting for an answer."

French GDF Suez, Spanish Iberdrola, Germany's RWE and Czech CEZ all withdrew from the project over the past two years, citing economic and market uncertainties.

Left with only Italy's Enel and a local unit of ArcelorMittal, Romania looked for new investors, but no offers were made before its own mid-September deadline.

Without new investors, the project will probably remain on hold and Romania would have to find other ways to generate power.

Asked on Tuesday whether the government can build the reactors alone, Prime Minister Victor Ponta said: "No. By itself, never. We are talking about several billion euros which can only come from a partnership with a private investor."

Romania already has two 706 megawatt reactors at Cernavoda on the Danube, accounting for a fifth of its power output. (Reporting by Luiza Ilie; Editing by Mike Nesbit)

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