Algeria may get Russian reactor

04 September 2014

Russia and Algeria have signed an intergovernmental agreement to cooperate in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

The agreement - signed yesterday in Algiers by Rosatom director general Sergey Kiriyenko and Algerian energy minister Youcef Yousfi - provides for the design, construction, operation and servicing of nuclear power plants as well as research reactors in Algeria. All technologies, materials and equipment transferred to Algeria under the agreement will be used exclusively for peaceful purposes, Rosatom said.

In addition, the two countries intend to carry out jointly exploration and operation of uranium deposits, Rosatom said. The agreement also states the possibility of the use of nuclear technologies in agriculture, biology, soil science, seawater desalination, and medicine, including the production of radioisotopes, Rosatom said. The two sides will also cooperate in radiation safety in Algeria.

"The key project of our cooperation could be construction of a nuclear power plant of the Russian VVER design," Kiriyenko said in the Rosatom statement. "We welcome the intention of the Algerian authorities to develop the national electricity [sector] and are ready to offer them a Generation III+ reference project, which meets the strictest safety requirements," he said.

Russian nuclear specialists "have accumulated a lot of experience" in building nuclear power plants in countries with a hot climate and high seismic activity, he said. This fact is proved by the successful operation of the Bushehr nuclear power plant Rosatom built in Iran, Kiriyenko said.

The two sides have agreed to set up a joint coordinating committee tasked with implementing the agreement, Rosatom said.

According to the Rosatom statement, Yousfi said the agreement would facilitate the development of human resources, technologies and science to build the first nuclear power plant in Algeria "within the coming 12 years"”.

Electricity demand rose in Algeria last year by 50 million tonnes of oil equivalent, according to Rosatom.

In February 2009 Algeria announced that it planned to build its first nuclear power plant to be operating about 2020, and might build a further unit every five years thereafter. In 2013 the target became a first plant by 2025, and a Nuclear Engineering Institute was established to provide training. In September 2009 its National Mining Patrimony Agency put uranium exploration leases in the southern Tamanrasset province out for tender. The 2011 'Red Book' shows the country having 26,000 tonnes of uranium resources, all in the high-cost category.

Algeria has operated two research reactors since 1995, at Draria and Ain Ouessara. The 15 MWt Es-Salam plant is a Chinese heavy water reactor which started up in 1992, the Nur 1 MWe pool unit was built by INVAP of Argentina in the 1980s.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News