Hyundai beats US, Chinese bidders to $12bn Bulgarian nuclear deal

Kozloduy is sited on the River Danube in northwest Bulgaria, near the Romanian border (Gogo89873/CC BY-SA 4.0)
South Korean contractor Hyundai Engineering & Construction has been chosen from a shortlist of five bidders to install and commission two Westinghouse AP1000 reactors at the Kozloduy nuclear power plant in Bulgaria.

Hyundai E&C beat US engineers Fluor and Bechtel to the work, as well as one team made up of China National Nuclear Corporation, China Energy Engineering Group and Tianjin Electric Power Construction, and a second led by China Energy Engineering Corporation.

The initial part of the selection process was a check that bidders had experience in constructing and commissioning of at least two nuclear units as well as possessing “solid experience in the nuclear and turbine island of at least two units, or have supplied and installed equipment for two units within the past 15 years”.

Applicants also had to demonstrate at least $6bn in turnover for the five years from 2018 to 2022. Candidates from the Russian Federation were excluded.

Kozloduy NPP New Builds, the company running the bidding process, said Hyundai met the criteria, and would be invited to submit an offer. The project is expected to cost around $12bn.

Deputy Energy Minister Nikolay Nikolov told Bulgaria’s official BTA news agency in December that the aim was to achieve a price of about €6bn ($6.5bn) for each of the units.

During negotiations with the EU in 2007, Bulgaria agreed to decommission Kozloduy’s four Soviet-built VVER-440 models.

That left two Russian VVER-1000 reactors, which were connected to the grid in 1987 and 1991. Both units will operate for a further 30–60 years, having undergone refurbishment and life extension programmes.

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