Terms of Paks project 'are in order', says Hungarian prime minister

20 February 2015

Hungary and Russia are "already in the implementation phase" of their project to build two new Russian-designed units at Paks, Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in an interview with Russian newspaper Kommersant. The article was published on the Hungarian government's website today, two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin made an official visit to the country.

According to the newspaper, Putin talked during his visit about a Russian state loan for the project of between €10 billion ($11.4 billion) and €12 billion ($13.6 billion). Asked to which currency the loan would be tied to, Orbán said, "Luckily, it is not tied to the rouble, or to the forint. This is good news for everyone." He would not state that it would be linked to the euro, saying merely that "the financial terms and conditions are in order."

He added: "If we implement everything the way we have planned, we shall have struck one of the best deals in the history of Hungary. We only have to keep firmly to the agreement. We Hungarians are innovative, and always come up with new and better ideas; it is not easy to stay on the chosen path. But if we are disciplined, we shall succeed."

Paks currently comprises four Russian-supplied VVER-440 pressurized water reactors, which started up between 1982 and 1987. Though originally 440 MWe gross, the units have been upgraded and will be modified further to give 500-510 MWe gross.

In early 2014, Hungary and Russia signed a cooperation agreement which included the construction of two new VVER reactors of up to 1200 MWe each at Paks. The first new unit is to be commissioned in 2023, with the second following about two years later. During Putin's visit to Hungary this week, Russia's Rosatom and Hungary's ministry of human capacities signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the training of nuclear energy personnel.

Hungarian online news agency Portfolio.hu today cited Orbán as saying that nuclear energy remains "necessary" in Europe. Orbán also said it was time to admit "the especially inconvenient truth" that competitive energy prices could not be created in the region without having Russia as part of Europe's energy market. The most important factor in the energy sector today is price, he said, and "climate is only second."

The Paks extension project is expected to cost nearly €12 billion ($13.6 billion), according to Portfolio.hu. Of that, 80% will be provided by Russia in the form of a "highly preferential" 30-year loan.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News