Ukraine prepares to cancel Khmelnitski agreement with Russia

24 June 2015

Ukraine is preparing the legal document required to cancel its contract with Russia concerning the completion of two units at the Khmelnitski nuclear power plant. The move was announced yesterday by Svetlana Kulchitskaya, deputy head of the atomic energy and nuclear industry department of the Ministry of Energy and Coal.

"Measures are being taken to cancel the agreement signed in 2010 with Russia. Today, an instruction was received from the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, which gives the Foreign Ministry and other relevant bodies the authority to resolve this matter as soon as possible. The document will soon be prepared and sent to Russia," Kulchitskaya said, according to Ukrainian state-run news agency Ukrinform.

Kulchitskaya said Ukraine is preparing to cancel the 2010 intergovernmental agreement owing to Russia's "failure to meet its obligations" under this accord. She also said that the government is considering other options for the completion of the units at Khmelnitski.

"Now, the government is working out a draft legal act authorizing the definition of the legal grounds for the application of the technical characteristics of the reactor to be not a Russian product, but to offer the VVER-1000 manufactured by the Czech company Škoda JS for the new units," she said.

Škoda JS says on its website that its has been working with the VVER reactor design for nearly 40 years and that so far it has manufactured a total of 21 complete reactors of the VVER 440/V-213 type and three reactors of the VVER 1000/V-320 type. Since the beginning of the 1990s, the company has focused on the upgrade and service lifetime extensions of existing reactor components and also on supplying spare parts.

Construction of the new Khmelnitski units was stopped in 1990 when they were, respectively, 75% and 28% complete. The government announced in September 2008 that construction of the units would resume in 2010 for completion in 2016 and 2017, these completion dates being reaffirmed in the mid-2011 energy policy update.

Ukraine's nuclear power plant operator Energoatom signed a contract agreement in February 2011 with Atomstroyexport - Russia's general contractor for the construction of nuclear power plants in other countries - for the completion of the units as AES-92 plants with V-392B reactors similar to those already on the site. That contract followed an intergovernmental agreement signed in June 2010. Then, in October that year, Russia's Sberbank said it was willing to lend Energoatom $1 billion, with Ukraine meeting 15% of the cost of the project.

But Energoatom said in May 2011 it was not satisfied with the interest rate of the proposed loan and in August 2014, Energoatom President Yuri Nedashkovskiy said Ukraine would not cooperate with Russia on construction of Khmelnitski 3 and 4. Nedashkovskiy also said Energoatom would prepare a plan for the units, including a strategy to export the electricity they generate to Europe.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Areseniy Yatsenyuk said on 22 October 2014 that the project will be implemented by Škoda JS. Yatsenyuk had told Energoatom management to speed up construction of new nuclear reactors and to enlist the help of "European partners" rather than Russia. A few days later, Energoatom and Škoda JS signed a memorandum of cooperation.

Atomstroyexport, now part of the ASE-NIAEP-AEP engineering subsidiary of Russia's Rosatom, said last week it had closed down its office in Ukraine. The closure was announced in the Ukrainian parliamentary newspaper Golos Ukraini. The office was registered in October 2004, in Slavutych.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News