Ukraine and South Korea cement nuclear ties

31 August 2016

Energoatom and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) have agreed to cooperate in the nuclear energy sector. A memorandum of understanding - signed today in Kiev by Energoatom President Yury Nedashkovsky and KHNP President and CEO Seok Cho - aims to promote the "sustainable social and economic development" of the two countries, the Ukrainian nuclear power plant operator said.

KHNP-Energoatom - August 2016 - 460 (Energoatom)
Cho and Nedashkovsky sign the MOU (Image: Energoatom)

Areas of cooperation will include completion of units 3 and 4 of Ukraine's Khmelnitsky nuclear power plant and the Ukraine-European Union "energy bridge" project.

The companies have agreed to create a steering committee that will have a co-chairmen from each of them. Members of the committee will "coordinate all cooperation under this Memorandum and develop cooperation based on relevant commercial agreements (or series of agreements)", Energoatom said.

Cho said he strongly believed the Khmelnitsky 3 and 4 project would be completed successfully through Energoatom and KHNP working together with a common goal, "given that both companies have accumulated extensive experience and expertise through the continuous construction and operation of nuclear power plants over the past 40 years". Nedashkovsky said their joint efforts would support the development of Ukraine's nuclear power technology.

The document states that Ukraine and South Korea are member countries of the International Atomic Energy Agency and parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

State-owned KHNP covers about 32% of South Korea's total electricity production. Headquartered in Gyeongju, it owns and operates 24 nuclear power units with a total installed capacity of 21,716 MWe. In addition, it has six nuclear power units under construction and plans to build an additional four units in Korea.

Energoatom, which is also state-owned, operates four nuclear power plants - Zaporozhe, Rovno, South Ukraine and Khmelnitsky - which comprise 15 nuclear reactors, including 13 VVER-1000s and two VVER-440s with a total capacity of 13,835 MWe.

Construction of Khmelnitsky 3 began in September 1985, while that of unit 4 started in June 1986. Work on the two units stopped in 1990 when they were 75% and 28% complete, respectively.

In June 2010, Russia and Ukraine signed an intergovernmental agreement on the resumption of work on the two partially built reactors at Khmelnitsky. The Ukrainian parliament ratified that agreement. under which Russia was to provide financing for the amount required to design, construct and commission the two reactors, including for payments for services and goods supplied by Russia. Any components supplied from Ukraine for the project were to be financed from the Ukrainian budget. But in July 2015, Rosatom rejected the then Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk's claim that the Russian state nuclear corporation had failed to honour the agreement on completion of the units. Ukraine subsequently cancelled its agreement with Russia.

Then in November the same year, Ukraine was reportedly considering the possibility of cooperation with China on the project. Ukraine's energy minister, Vladimir Demchishin, said at a press briefing on 9 November: "It must be an international partner, despite the fact that these technologies were developed in Russia. We are looking to China and other partners, including Westinghouse and European partners, we are looking at all the options."

In July last year, the Ukrainian government approved a pilot project, named the "energy bridge", to transfer electricity from unit 2 of the Khmelnitsky plant to the European Union. Nedashkovsky said at the time this project would not only fund the addition of two reactors, but will also "open up new prospects" for the country to export power to European markets.

In March this year, Energoatom, Ukrenergo and Polenergia signed an MOU on the project. Energoatom said the agreement will make it possible to use all its available nuclear capacity and attract funds for the completion of the third and fourth reactors of the Khmelnitsky plant.

Ukrenergo is a Ukrainian state-run power distribution company, while Polenergia is a vertically integrated group of companies working in energy generation, trading and distribution. Polenergia is part of Kulczyk Investments, a privately-owned Polish investment company. The export of energy will be made possible by disconnecting Khmelnitsky 2 from the national grid.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News