Russia and Belarus meeting obligations under Ostrovets agreement

07 September 2016

State financial controllers in Belarus and Russia have carried out an audit of the intergovernmental agreement between the countries for construction of Belarus' first nuclear power plant, in Ostrovets, in the Grodno region. According to Nuclear.Ru, the State Control Committee of Belarus and the Accounts Chamber of Russia have looked at the "performance of obligations" laid out in the agreement.

The audit assessed: "The fullness of the execution by the parties of their commitments; the adequacy of measures taken by the competent authorities and organizations to ensure implementation of the agreement; and the use of Russian export credit funds."

In a statement yesterday, the Accounts Chamber of Russia said the audit had found the obligations had "in the main been carried out". It noted that three contracts worth $9 billion signed by the customer, Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant, and the general contractor, Russia's AtomStroyExport, for "design and preparatory works" had been completed.

As of 1 June, the customer had accepted work to the value of $2.2 billion, or 24% of the total value of the contracts. Of that figure, $1.8 billion was paid via Russian credit. Unit 1 is 32% complete, while unit 2 is 10% complete, it added. Belarus has fully met its obligations regarding the Russian loan, with interest paid on time and no arrears, it said.

Operation of the first unit of the Ostrovets plant is scheduled for November 2018 and the second unit in July 2020, to give 2340 MWe net capacity on line.

In early August, Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom said it had offered to replace the reactor shell for unit 2 of the plant its workers dropped during installation work the previous month. Mikhail Mikhadyuk, deputy energy minister of Belarus, said a decision would be taken on the use of the equipment only after a thorough investigation of the "abnormal situation".

The State Entity Nuclear Power Plant Construction Directorate (Belarus AEC) recently announced that an investigation had been launched into an accident at the construction site of the plant on 26 August that resulted in the death of a Russian subcontractor. No details were disclosed about the nature of the accident. According to Belarus Digest, the fatality had been caused by the "explosion of an oxygen gas tank".

In May 2009, Russia and Belarus signed an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in the field of atomic energy for peaceful purposes. This framework specified the main directions of cooperation in the development, design, construction and operation of nuclear power plants, nuclear fuel supply, nuclear and radiation safety, as well as scientific cooperation, training and others.

This agreement was followed in September 2009 with ASE signing an agreement to assist in a feasibility study into the construction of a nuclear power plant in Belarus. The study also considered the investment options available to finance the proposed plant.

An intergovernmental agreement between Russia and Belarus specifically on cooperation in the construction of a nuclear power plant in Belarus was signed in March 2011.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News