Joint efforts for new fuel plants

28 October 2010

Two new nuclear fuel fabrication plants are to be built: one in Kazakhstan by a joint venture including Areva, the other by TVEL in Ukraine. 

  

Areva CEO Anne Lauvergeon and KazAtomProm chairman Vladimir Shkolnik signed the agreement creating a fuel fabrication joint venture during a state visit to France by President Nursultan Nazarbayev. The new company is to build a 400 tonne per year manufacturing line for nuclear fuel assemblies at KazAtomProm's Ulba plant in Ust-Kamenogorsk, eastern Kazakhstan, based on Areva's design. The new line is scheduled to begin operations in 2014. KazAtomProm will own 51% of the new company, with Areva owning the remaining 49%.

Production from the new line will be commercialised by Ifastar, the joint venture (51% Areva, 49% KazAtomProm) created by the two companies in 2009 to fabricate fuel from Kazakh uranium and market it as an integrated package to customers in Asia. The formation of Ifastar followed a 2008 a strategic agreement covering an expansion of the Katco uranium mining joint venture as well as the installation of new fabrication capacity at Ulba.

Lauvergeon described the agreement as illustrating the Areva group's integrated offer strategy and strengthening its market position, while Shkolnik described the deal as "another important milestone" in KazAtomProm's strategy to create a vertically integrated complete fuel cycle company.

New plant for Ukraine

Elsewhere there has been development in the same stage of the nuclear fuel cycle, after Russia's TVEL has signed to build a new plant to make fuel for VVER 1000 reactors in Ukraine.

The agreement was signed by TVEL president Yuri Olenin and Tatiana Amosova, general director of Ukraine's Nuclear Fuel holding company, after TVEL was awarded the tender for the project in September. At the time, TVEL was said to have won the tender from competing bidder Westinghouse as it had expressed willingness to invest its own money in the construction of the $212 million plant.


As well as partially financing the project, TVEL has also undertaken to supply "all nuclear fuel components and parts that will be missing until localisation is completed", and to supply enrichment services from Russia. The agreement also provides the opportunity for the plant's output to be supplied to "third-party states" in the future.

According to the newly signed agreement, the 400 tonne per year facility will be in operation by 2013 provided the Ukrainian partner can accelerate site selection and approval as well as feasibility studies and project development. The schedule will also depend on the requisite licences and authorisations for plant construction, qualification and operation being granted by the relevant Ukrainian authorities.

An outline implementation plan is to be approved in the near future, according to TVEL, as will the creation of a joint company in which the Ukrainian party will own 50% plus one share. It has been a long term priority for Ukraine to increase its independence in nuclear technology.

Ukraine's 15 operating nuclear reactors are all Russian-designed VVER models, and in common with all other VVER reactors are routinely supplied with fuel by TVEL. Westinghouse fuel assemblies are undergoing trials at the three units at the South Ukraine nuclear power plant but have not yet received regulatory approval.

 

The latest agreement comes only weeks after Ukrainian national electricity generator Energoatom and Russia's AtomEnergoMash agreed to establish a consortium to localise production of equipment for Ukrainian nuclear power plants. 

Researched and written

by World Nuclear News

 

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