Off The Wire
Poland's PGE open to other partners in nuclear power plan
WARSAW, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Poland's biggest power producer PGE is ready to cooperate with more partners in a plan to build the country's first nuclear power plant, the company said on Thursday.
Poland produces most of its electricity from coal but global pressures to shift away from the polluting fuel are forcing it to review plans for power generation.
State-run PGE has been leading the long-delayed nuclear power project but has limited financial resources for the plans after buying Polish heating and power assets from France's EDF .
The Energy Ministry has suggested it would welcome other partners to help fund the project that could cost 50 billion to 60 billion zlotys ($15 billion to $18 billion).
Former deputy head of Polish oil refiner PKN Orlen told Reuters in February that the firm was examining the nuclear project, without providing details. Energy Minister Krzysztof Tchorzewski has said PKN was analysing the plan "with an intention to buy a stake" in the special purpose vehicle known as PGE EJ 1 set up by PGE to draw together investment for the nuclear power plant.
PGE holds 70 percent in PGE EJ 1, while state-run firms KGHM , Enea and Tauron each hold 10 percent.
"The strategic assumption in the nuclear project was and is openness to cooperation, both in the context of operational and capital involvement," a PGE spokesman said in statement when asked if PGE would offer a stake to PKN.
He said PGE would "inform the market in accordance with applicable regulations" if the size of its stake was to change.
KGHM and Tauron said they were not in talks with PKN on selling their stakes in PGE EJ 1. Enea declined to comment.
Three sources familiar with the situation said cash-rich PKN could take a lead role in the nuclear project.
Buying a stake in PGE EJ 1 would not incur major costs initially but would require hefty investment as the nuclear project progressed.
PKN said it was looking at many different projects which might fall under its strategy.
($1 = 3.3855 zlotys)
(Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko; Aditional reporting by Anna Koper and Marcin Goclowski; Editing by Edmund Blair)