Argentina, Russia sign nuclear reactor and fuel deals

23 April 2015

Russian President Vladimir Putin is to sign an agreement today, during a state visit to Moscow by Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, that paves the way for Rosatom to build a sixth nuclear reactor in the South American country.

TVEL-NAEC-INVAP April 2015 - 460 (TVEL)
The documents were signed in the presence of Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and Planning Minister Julio de Vido (Image: TVEL)

Kirchner said in a statement yesterday that the agreement reflected the leaders' shared belief that constructing nuclear power plants "will be a trend across the world" thanks to the appeal of low-cost electricity generation.

"Nuclear power is growing in prestige in the world, and it is cheaper, cleaner and less subject to external vulnerabilities," Kirchner said in the statement which was posted on her official website.

During her visit, Rosatom's nuclear fuel manufacturing subsidiary, TVEL, yesterday signed two memoranda of understanding with the National Atomic Energy Commission of Argentina (CNEA) and INVAP SE, a design and construction company wholly owned by the government of the Argentinian province of Rio Negro.

The documents were signed by TVEL vice president Felix Abolenin, Norma Boero, CNEA president, and Héctor Eduardo Otheguy, CEO of INVAP SE. Kirchner and Julio de Vido, Argentina's minister of federal planning, public investment and services, were present at the signing ceremony.

In a statement, TVEL said the memoranda provide for a broad cooperation and joint initiatives in the field of nuclear energy, including deliveries of low-enriched uranium fuel and its components for research and power reactors in Argentina, supplies of TVEL-manufactured zirconium components of the nuclear fuel cycle, and joint research and development projects. The parties have also undertaken to establish a bilateral working group to represent all stakeholders.

Putin invited Kirchner to visit Moscow during his meeting with her last July in Buenos Aires, where Russian and Argentine officials signed a raft of deals on trade, military cooperation, communications and energy projects. The two countries also signed a deal on civilian nuclear energy projects. That document replaced an agreement that expired in December 2012 and expands areas of cooperation, Rosatom said at the time. These areas include design, construction, operation and decommissioning of nuclear power plants and research reactors, including water desalination facilities. They also include support of the nuclear fuel cycle, radioactive waste management and isotope production, it said.

Argentina has three nuclear power units in operation - the 335 MWe Atucha I, 660 MWe Embalse and 745 MWe Atucha 2, which reached first criticality in June last year. All are pressurized heavy water reactors.

In February, China and Argentina agreed to cooperate on the construction of a Chinese-designed Hualong One reactor in the South American country. They plan to participate in the construction of a new nuclear plant featuring a light water reactor and enriched uranium, adopting ACP1000 technology. In July 2014, the two countries signed an agreement towards construction of a third pressurized heavy water reactor at the Atucha plant. Through the agreement, China National Nuclear Corporation was to assist Nucleoeléctrica Argentina SA by providing goods and services under long-term financing. That agreement was ratified on 3 February.

Argentina last month signed an agreement with Bolivia aimed at cooperation in promoting and developing infrastructure and institutions for the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Bolivian President Evo Morales said last July, following a meeting with Putin, that Russia had offered Bolivia "a comprehensive plan for the development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes”.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News