Russian push for new business continues

03 January 2008

Russian diplomats and officials have continued their push for nuclear power contracts worldwide, addressing Bangladesh, Uruguay, Turkey, Morocco, Egypt and even the UK.

On 31 December the Russian ambassador to Uruguay said the countries were considering limited cooperation in nuclear energy, despite Uruguayan law that prohibits its use. The Russian solution to this obstacle would be to supply Uruguay with a floating nuclear power plant which could power infrastructure on-shore via a cable. RIA Novosti reported this was the topic of a recent presentation at the Russian embassy which was "proactively discussed".

A floating unit would be similar to the one now under construction for the Archangelsk shipyard in northwest Russia. That plant will provide 70 MWe from two KLT-40S naval-origin reactors. A similar unit is also a possibility for Yakutia, while China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Algeria, Namibia and Argentina have all expressed interest in the plants.

In a Moscow press conference Sergei Shmatko, CEO of AtomStroyExport, said efforts to sell plants worldwide had been stepped up. "In the past we've simply stated our ambitions but in the last few months talks have really been active."

AtomStroyExport, part of the forthcoming giant AtomEnergoProm (AEP) is set to bid on nuclear projects in Morocco and Turkey. It signed a memorandum of understanding with
 Insaat Ticaret ve Sanayi in 2007 to promote its VVER-design pressurized water reactors in Turkey.

In Bangladesh, proposals have been prepared to resurrect the potential Roppur nuclear power plant, under discussion since the 1960s. After developing the plan over the last eight years, Bangladeshi officials have contacted their Russian counterparts on both technical and political levels for support in the project. However, a national debate would be required before a final decision to build could be made.

AEP even has the UK in its sights, despite its absence from ongoing pre-licensing activities and the UK public's marked prejudice against Russian nuclear technology since the Chernobyl disaster. In a Times interview, Sergei Novikov, spokesman for the Federal Atomic Energy Agency (Rosatom), said AEP would consider partnering with a Western manufacturer for UK new build. The newspaper included words from Kirill Komarov, deputy director of AEP, who said: "If Russia forms a strategic partnership, then that partnership will become the leader of the world atomic market."