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Last week the Romanian state-owned nuclear power plant Nuclearelectrica sold 10% of its shares through an Initial Public Offering (IPO) on the Bucharest Stock Exchange, in return for 63 million euros. Nuclearelectrica also offered new shares equal to a 1.077% stake to its minority shareholder Fondul Proprietatea to allow it to keep its stake in the company intact. The fund paid some 6.8 million euros for the shares. According to Minister Delegate for Energy Cristian Nita, this is the second successful move after Transgaz, a state-owned natural gas transport company, sold 15% if its shares on the market, evidence of the growing interest in Romanian energy companies. The gas producer Romgaz Medias will also be traded on the stock exchange market by yearend, via IPO. The listing of these state-owned companies with a view to privatisation is part of the Romanian government’s agreement with the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the European Commission. At present only Reactors #1 and #2 of the nuclear power plant in Cernavoda, southeastern Romania, are operational. Reactors #3 and Unit #4 are to be finalised by 2019 and 2020 respectively, while Reactor #5 is in conservation. The nominal power of Reactors #1 and #2 is 706.5 MW each, accounting for around 19% of Romania’s power demand. Romania’s Government has decided to finance the construction of Reactors #3 and #4 with private funding, under a public-private partnership. EnergoNuclear stock company is in charge of completing the works on Reactors #3 and #4 and of rendering them operational. We recall that in 2010 the European Commission green lighted the completion of Nuclearelectrica’s Reactors #3 and #4, as per article 43 of the EURATOM Treaty, and underlined the fact that the reactors’ design fully complies with the Treaty’s stipulations. Economy Minister Varujan Vosganian explains: Varujan Vosganian: “We are part of the European Union but we must also learn to see ourselves as part of the whole world in terms of investment flow, international trade and energy strategy. In this wider context peace-oriented nuclear programmes are under continuous expansion. Why wouldn’t we do that too? Nuclear energy ensures our energy independence, it is a clean and rather cheap energy. We have the necessary human resources for that as well as state-of-the art technology. Moreover, on the medium term, nuclear energy might replace other types of resources facing exhaustion. At present we don’t have a clear picture of what the future of nuclear programmes holds. Together with the Ministry of Large Scale Projects and the Energy Ministry we are looking for investors for Reactors #3 and #4. We are also considering the possibility of setting up a nuclear power plant in central Romania, where the earthquake risks are low and where the prospects for such a project are encouraging.” Another argument in favour of a nuclear energy programme in Romania is that the existing thermal-power plants are outdated. There is also the need to diversify energy sources in order to cover as much of the domestic demand as possible. In turn Teodor Chirica, who represents the Romanian Atomic Forum, pleads for the state’s support of nuclear energy programmes: Teodor Chirica: “There are financial constraints to nuclear energy development, which affect large-scale energy projects, including nuclear ones, and the global financial crisis is only making things worse. The polemic around the issue of energy market structure, on whether it should be regulated or not, has become more fierce, although it is impossible for an unregulated market to get the funds it needs to develop large-scale projects, be they nuclear or conventional. International bank experts and financial consultants share the industry’s concerns that investors are not interested in financing important European energy projects before they see a set of measures in place. These measures, aimed to reduce financing risks, involve governmental support, encouraging long-term energy supply contracts that are transparent and favour all parties involved and a balanced approach of the three pillars of energy strategy, namely, climate change, economic efficiency and energy security.” The state-owned nuclear power plant Nuclearelectrica estimates to post 509.5 million euros in turnover this year, up by 1.1% as against last year, and a net profit 23 times bigger, of 30.4 million euros, due to the cutback on spending. The level of investment set by the plant this year stands at 131.3 million euros, up by 13.3% as compared to 2012. Radio Romania International
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