Argentina and China sign two reactor construction agreements

16 November 2015

Argentina has signed deals with China for the construction of the Latin American country's fourth and fifth nuclear power plants. The agreements were signed yesterday by the president of Nucleoeléctrica Argentina SA (NASA), Jose Luis Antunez, and the head of China's China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), Quian Zhimin, on the sidelines of the G20 summit taking place in the Turkish coastal resort of Antalya.

The projects are worth around $15 billion and China will contribute 85% of the required financing, according to a statement issued by the Argentine president's office. The documents were signed in the presence of Argentina's minister of federal planning Julio de Vido and China's Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission Xu Shaoshi, among other officials.

In the statement, Kicillof said the plants "will secure our energy supply in the future".

Antunez and Zhimin, November 2015 (Argentine President's Office) 460x290
NASA's Antunez and CNNC's Quian signing the agreements during the G20 summit yesterday (Image: Argentine President's Office)

In July 2014, China and Argentina signed a new high-level agreement towards construction of a third pressurized heavy water reactor (PHWR) at the Atucha plant in Argentina. Through the agreement, CNNC is to assist NASA by providing goods and services under long-term financing. That agreement was ratified in February 2015. The accord provides for NASA - holder of rights to Candu technology - to be designer, architect-engineer, builder and operator of the new reactor.

On 31 October, Argentina's Ministry of Federal Planning said that "important progress" had been made in negotiations between the partners, with agreement being reached on the technology to be used and on the terms of the commercial contracts for construction of the Atucha 3 PHWR.

The text of the agreement for NNSA and CNNC to form a consortium for construction of the plant was agreed earlier this month. Under the agreement, over 70% of the components to be used in the plant will be supplied by Argentine companies. CNNC is now expected to advance the negotiations with Chinese financial institutions to conclude project financing.

Atucha 3 is expected to cost almost $6 billion and to take eight years to build at the Atucha Nuclear Power Plant Complex in Buenos Aires province, where the 335 MWe Atucha I and 745 MWe Atucha 2 currently operate. Atucha 3 will be a part Canadian-developed Candu reactor running on natural uranium fuel, like the 648 MWe Embalse Candu reactor in Córdoba province. CNNC operates two Candu 6 units at its Qinshan plant in China's Zhejiang province.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News