Rosatom keeps to overseas schedule despite pandemic

26 August 2020

Rosatom has not revised its portfolio of construction projects abroad but anticipates the coronavirus pandemic may affect some of its contracts, Alexey Likhachov, the Russian state nuclear corporation's director general, said during the Army-2020 conference in Moscow on 23 August, according to Tass. Separately, local Egyptian media said today that Egypt would issue a construction licence for the planned El Dabaa nuclear power plant in the second-half of 2021.

Ostrovets unit 1 in Belarus (Image: Rosatom)

In March, Rosatom said that it planned to maintain a 10-year portfolio of foreign orders at the current level of at least USD140 billion, and the following month the company said it was prepared for difficulties that may arise with project timelines.

"For our part, we have not adjusted a single schedule," Likhachov said, adding that he hoped any impact by the COVID-19 crisis would be to delay the signing of new contracts, rather than changes to decisions already made by foreign governments. "Our partners countries are experiencing the pandemic in different ways and a number of [them] have essentially suspended the adoption of some government decisions. This, of course, can affect contracting, but we very much hope that this will only mean a shift to the terms and not a revision of fundamental decisions," he said.

According to Egypt Today, Amged El-Wakeel, chairman of the Nuclear Power Plants Authority of Egypt, confirmed that the Egyptian Nuclear and Radiological Regulatory Authority expects to grant a construction licence for the first unit of the El Dabaa plant in the second-half of 2021. Russia and Egypt signed an inter-governmental agreement in November 2015 to construct Egypt's first nuclear power plant. The plant, to be built near the city of El Alamein on Egypt’s northern coast, comprises four VVER-1200 reactors.

Rosatom's project to build the first nuclear power plant in Belarus is "all in order" and the company will "do all it can" to ensure that the unrest there, following the presidential election, will not impact the schedule, Likhachov said.

BelNPP, which consists of two VVER-1200 reactors, is under construction near the town of Ostrovets, in the Grodno Region. Fuel was loaded into unit 1 between 7 and 20 August and the physical startup stage is under way. It is scheduled to be connected to the grid in the fourth quarter of this year. Commissioning of unit 2 is scheduled for 2022.

In April, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the decree Development of equipment, technologies and scientific research in the field of atomic energy use in the Russian Federation for the period up to 2024, and Likhachov confirmed that the way the programme would be financed was "already clear", according to Tass. He did not give further details, but the news agency said the cost of the programme was reportedly about RUB750 billion (USD10 billion), and that 46% of this would come from the federal budget.

Rosatom comprises 400 enterprises and employs more than 250,000 people.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News