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Toshiba nearing Bulgaria nuclear reactor deal

Kyodo, JIJI, AFP-JIJI

Toshiba Corp. is close to striking a deal to build a nuclear reactor for a Bulgarian state-owned utility firm for about ¥500 billion, company sources said Thursday.

The Japanese firm plans to build the reactor with output capacity of around 1.1 million kilowatts through its U.S. unit Westinghouse Electric Co.

It is also considering investing in a company related to the utility, Bulgarian Energy Holding EAD, through Westinghouse.

Toshiba and the energy holding company are expected to reach a basic agreement shortly, the sources said.

The report comes as some European countries are looking to cut their reliance on Russia for their energy needs as the Ukraine crisis rumbles on.

Japanese engineering giants including Toshiba, Hitachi and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries have been eyeing opportunities abroad as they try to rekindle an nuclear energy business hammered by the 2011 Fukushima crisis.

The country’s nuclear reactors have been shuttered since a tsunami slammed into the Fukushima plant, sending reactors into meltdown and setting off the worst nuclear crisis in a generation.

Last year, Japan and Turkey agreed on a long-awaited deal to build a sprawling nuclear power plant on the Black Sea coast, marking the first order for Japan’s atomic sector since the 2011 tragedy.

Bulgaria, which currently depends heavily on thermal power generation using natural gas imported from Russia, is aiming to increasing the use of nuclear power to ensure a more stable energy supply, according to the company sources.

Earlier this week, Toshiba finished buying a 60 percent stake in British nuclear energy firm NuGeneration Ltd. for £102 million(¥17.8 billion).

NuGeneration plans to install three nuclear reactors to be supplied by Westinghouse Electric Co., a U.S. unit of Toshiba, at a new power station in Sellafield in Britain. The station will enter into service in 2024.

NuGeneration was previously held 50-50 by Spanish power firm Iberdrola SA and French energy giant GDF Suez. Toshiba bought all Iberdrola’s holdings in NuGeneration and a 10 percent stake from GDF Suez.