Faltering steps for Cernavoda

20 January 2011

While three engineering contractors have declared their intention to bid to complete Cernavoda units 3 and 4 in Romania, three utilities have withdrawn from the project.  


Cernavoda 1-4 (Image: AECL)
Cernavoda (Image: AECL)

The letters of intent, accompanied by the necessary qualifying documents, were submitted by Bechtel International, a consortium led by Canadian engineering company SNC Lavalin and including Ansaldo Nucleare of Italy and Romanian power engineering company Elcomex IEA, and the Atomtechnoprom consortium of four unnamed Russian companies. SNC Lavalin, Ansaldo Nucleare and Elcomex were all involved in the construction of Cernavoda 1 and 2, and SNC Lavalin has been widely talked of as a possible future owner of Candu supplier Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL).

Romania's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Business, yesterday announced the filings would be reviewed by an evaluation committee to ensure that the candidates are suitably qualified for the subsequent stages of the procedure, including the development of the technical specifications for the power plant, the presentation and negotiation of primary bids and the negotiation of final offers. The process is expected to end sometime in 2011 or in the first half of 2012, when the winning bid will be determined and the contract awarded.


Today, however, has seen a joint notice from European utility heavyweights GdF Suez, RWE and Iberdola that they "have decided not to continue to participare in the Cernavoda project." The companies said they worked on the completion of Cernavoda 3 and 4 from 2008 but, "Economic and market uncertainties surrounding this project, related for the most part to the present financial crisis, are not reconcilable now with the capital requirements of a new nuclear power project."


"This decision does not reflect on the technical quality of the project," noted the power producers.

Cernavoda is the site of Romania's two operating nuclear power plants, both Canadian-designed Candu pressurised heavy water reactors. Five such units were originally planned for the site, and work began on all of them during the 1980s but was suspended on units 2-5 in 1991. Unit 1 was completed and started up in 1996, and in 2000 the Romanian government decided to prioritise the modernisation and completion of unit 2, which subsequently started up in 2007. Between them, the two units now provide around 18% of the electricity generated in Romania each year.

The completion and operation of Cernavoda 3 and 4 is being managed by EnergoNuclear, a joint stock company 51% owned by Romanian state nuclear power corporation Nuclearelectrica. In early 2010 it signed an agreement with AECL to carry out engineering consultancy work to assess viability and define project requirements in preparation for the completion of the two Candu 6 reactors as part of an 18-month pre-project phase. The two units are pencilled in for start-up in 2016 and 2017.  

Researched and written

by World Nuclear News