Putin: Russia ready to fund entire Paks II project

03 February 2017

Russia is prepared to provide all of the funding required for Hungary's Paks nuclear power plant expansion project, President Vladimir Putin told journalists in Budapest yesterday, following talks with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. A transcript of the press briefing was posted on the Russian presidential website.

Putin and Orban - February 2017 - 460 (Kremlin)
Putin and Orban address the media (Image: Kremlin)

An inter-governmental agreement signed in early 2014 would see Russian enterprises and their international sub-contractors supply two new units at Paks - VVER-1200 reactors - as well as a Russian state loan of up to €10.0 billion ($11.2 billion) to finance 80% of the project.

"The project costs €12 billion, 80% of which was supposed to come from a Russian loan. I apprised the prime minister of other options. We are prepared to finance 100% of it, but then the terms and conditions of the agreement should be slightly different. We can do this as well," Putin said, according to the transcript.

The project will create 10,000 "new well-paid high-tech jobs", he said, adding it would improve Hungary's energy security and help grow its economy.

Russia places "great importance", he said, on the Paks II construction project, which is being managed by state nuclear corporation Rosatom.

Paks currently comprises four Russian-supplied VVER-440 pressurized water reactors, which started up between 1982 and 1987.

The existing Paks plant "has been operating for a long time in Hungary", he said, "and today produces close to 40% of all electricity produced in that country".

The launch of the two new units will "make it possible to double electricity production and satisfy the demand for electricity that is essential in order to develop new production facilities in Hungary", he added.

The European Commission cleared Hungary's award of a contract to Rosatom to build the two new units at Paks in November last year. It had been examining until recently two matters related to Paks II - procurement and whether funding of the project amounts to state aid. On 17 November, it closed the infringement procedure it had launched against Hungary over public procurement rules in connection with the project, but it is still investigating whether there is state aid.

Orban referred to the remaining EU approval required for the project.

"One issue remains open and we are waiting for an EU decision on it. We are convinced that our agreements are fully in compliance with EU requirements and we very much hope that this year we will be able to begin preparations and go ahead with construction in 2018," he said.

"We are waiting for the construction work to finally begin, because what kind of nuclear power station is it that everyone is talking about but no one has seen? They haven't even dug the first hole yet. We are waiting for work to start."

But Orban also said that a review of the 2014 intergovernmental agreement "is not currently on the agenda".

He added: "We want to go ahead with what President Putin and I signed previously."

Project company MVM Paks II received an environmental licence in late September and in October submitted a site licence application for the two new units.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News