Russian nuclear fuel fabricator TVEL will continue to supply fuel for Slovakia's nuclear power reactors under long-term contracts signed with Slovak utility Slovenske Elektrarne.
|TVEL's VVER-440 fuel assembly line (Image: TVEL)
Two contracts were signed by TVEL president Yuri Olenin and Slovenske Electrarne director general Paolo Ruzzini in a ceremony at TVEL's Mashinostroitelny Zavod (Elemash) plant in Elektrostal near Moscow. The first contract, worth a reported €500 million ($632.7 million), covers fuel supplies for Slovakia's operating nuclear units - Mochovce units 1 and 2 and Bohunice units 3 and 4 - for the period from 2011 to 2015. Slovakia's fifth currently operating nuclear unit, Bohunice unit 3, is scheduled for closure before the period covered by the new contract.
The second contract covers cooperation principles between the two companies beyond 2015. According to reports of the signing ceremony, the agreement will see TVEL producing fuel for all "existing and future reactors" at Slovak nuclear power plants.
The Bohunice and Mochovce units covered in the contract are all Soviet-designed VVER-440 pressurised water reactors, for which TVEL has supplied all the fuel since their commissioning. "There are only twenty one VVER-440s in the market; it is likely that this technology will not be developed further, so we remain the sole player in the nuclear fuel market for these reactors," TVEL's Olenin is quoted as saying in Russian press reports of the signing. US fuel manufacturer Westinghouse had bid unsuccessfully for the supply contract, according to press reports.
Slovakia's five operating nuclear reactors supply around 57% of the country's electricity. Slovenske Elektrarne, which is 66% owned by Italian utility ENEL, officially started work on two new units at Mochovce earlier in November with a view to startups in 2012 and 2013. The Slovak government has also announced plans for a further unit at Bohunice 5, looking to a 2020 startup, and also includes a 1200 MWe nuclear plant at Kecerovce, starting up around 2025, in its list of priority power projects.