A €2 billion tender for developers of Bulgaria’s second nuclear power plant in Belene has been launched.

The announcment follows government approval for the project to build two 1 GW VVER units on the Belene site, the biggest project for the last 15 years.

Prequalification criteria include annual income over the last three years, previous experience in designing and putting into operation nuclear plants, nuclear safety knowledge and project management. Candidates can file offers by June 27, 2005. The tender committee is to shortlist bidders eligible to file final bids by July 17, 2005.

In other developments in Bulgaria, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is to loan AES Corp euro 157.5 million to finance a billion-euro upgrade of coal-fired power plant on the site of the Maritsa East I coal-fired power plant in central Bulgaria.

AES Corp will build and operate two 300 MW lignite-fired power plants at the site which has a current capacity of 500 MW.

EBRD also plans to buy a stake in the Bulgarian unit of Germany’s E.On, which owns 67% of two of the country’s power distributors, located in the Black Sea port city of Varna and in the central town of Gorna Oryahovitsa. The bank did not reveal either the size or cost of the stake.