Lithuanian energy minister: nuclear plant project on track

12.08.2010, 16:58

Lithuania's plan to build a new nuclear power plant by 2018-2020 remains on track and the government will pick a strategic investor by year-end, the country's energy minister Arvydas Sekmokas said on Tuesday, reported Reuters.

"In September, we will ask (investors) to submit binding proposals," Energy Minister Arvydas Sekmokas told Reuters in an interview. "I think we will have a strategic investor by the end of this year for sure."

A contract with a strategic investor or a consortium of investors on building a plant at a cost of 3-5 billion euros could be signed in the beginning of 2011, he added.

In February, the government decided to have talks with five unidentified investors and planned to ask two of them to submit binding proposals by mid-summer.

Despite the delay, the plan was on track, Sekmokas insisted.

"I am not going to revise those dates (2018-2020), which the potential investors and technology suppliers have said are ambitious, but still possible," he said, declining to disclose the identities of the five potential bidders.

The government has previously said it expected large European utility companies such as E.ON, EDF, Iberdrola, RWE and Vattenfall to take part in the tender.

However, E.ON said in May it was not actively pursuing Lithuanian nuclear plant project.

The government, which by law must own 34 percent of the new plant seen going up next to the old Ignalina plant in eastern Lithuania, plans to offer a strategic investor more than 50 percent with the rest to be shared by regional partners.

Financing of the project remains unclear, but Sekmokas said Lithuania could raise funds by selling shares of state-owned energy companies, including power grids, and would provide a construction site with infrastructure.

Lithuania shut down its only nuclear power plant, at Ignalina, at the end of 2009 under an agreement with the European Union, making the country more dependent on gas supplies from Russia, its former Soviet master.