Bulgaria to restart nuclear reactor in face of gas row

January 17th, 2009 - 4:40 am ICT by IANS  

Sofia, Jan 17 (DPA) Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev said Friday that his country would restart a Soviet-era nuclear power reactor at Kozloduy, in the face of severe ongoing gas shortages due to the energy dispute between Ukraine and Russia.Bulgarian news agency Focus reported that Stanishev said his government had decided to begin the 45-day technical preparation process to restart the reactor, because the country had still received no gas from its Russian supplier.

Earlier Friday, Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov called for a new European Union energy policy in the wake of the ongoing dispute.

In a speech on national security in Sofia, Parvanonv said that it was “important to build a dependable partnership” between the states of the Caspian littoral.

Parvanov added that the proposed Nabucco pipeline project, which would see gas distributed from the Caucasus without passing through Russian or Ukrainian territory, was not just about a physical project, but also about politics.

Regarding the decision to restart the reactor, Parvanov said Bulgaria did not want a “nuclear energy conflict” with the EU, which opposes such moves, but also asked “how much more serious will this crisis become?” Bulgaria has been one of the worst affected countries by the gas cut-off imposed by Russia due to a commercial dispute with Ukraine.

The country is dependent on Russia for 95 percent of its gas supplies and has received no gas for over a week. In recent days electricity demand has reached record levels in the country, due to citizens plugging in electric heaters in the absence of central gas- fuelled heating services.

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