Notice signed to continue contracts to build four VVER-1200 units at the El Dabaa nuclear plant

12/12/2017 16:34 Nuclear

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Rosatom Director General Alexey Likhachov and Egypt's Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy Mohamed Shaker agreed to proceed with contracts for the construction of four VVER-1200 units at the El Dabaa nuclear power site.

The contracts, inked by the President Abdel Fattah El Sisi of Egypt and President Vladimir Putin of Russia, are the continuation of a November 2015 intergovernmental accord, which consists of Russian state-support loan of $25 billion for the project estimated at $30 billion. The funding offered by Rosatom will offer around 85% of the plant's building costs, and Egypt will have to obtain the rest of money from private investors.


Under the terms of the deals, Rosatom will be responsible for the construction of four VVER-1200 reactors at El Dabaa, in the Matrouh region on the Mediterranean coast, and will supply nuclear fuel during the plant's lifetime. 


Rosatom will also train employees and will back its Egyptian partners in performing operation and maintenance activities during the first ten years of the plant's working period. The contract comprises the construction of a specific storage site as well and the supply of containers for the storage of used nuclear fuel.


The first unit is likely to be commissioned in 2026. The contracts represent a record business deal in the history of the nuclear industry, being the biggest non-feedstock partnership in Russia’s experience. 


Rosatom will also aid Egypt to expand its nuclear infrastructure, as well as raising the level of localisation and helping the country in training its nuclear employees and working on public acceptance of nuclear energy. 


Future nuclear workers will be formed both in Russia and Egypt. Hundreds of Egyptian students will learn nuclear disciplines in Russia over the next few years. Several Egyptian firms will take part in the construction project, and the first unit is planned to have a localisation level of at least 20%. 


The VVER-1200 is considered by Rosatom as a generation 3+ plant which complies with all post-Fukushima International Atomic Energy Agency requirements. 


Russia's first VVER-1200, unit 1 of the Novovoronezh II plant, became operational earlier this year. El Dabaa will link unit 1 of the Leningrad Phase II nuclear power facility in western Russia, where fuel loading started on 8th of December. The construction operations started on a VVER-1200 at Rooppur in Bangladesh.

 

Justin Dargin, the global energy expert at the University of Oxford, mentioned: "Egypt, for approximately a decade, has been experiencing natural gas allocation shortages and electricity deficits. This occurred primarily due to demographic growth, on the back of extremely low power tariffs, and overextension of its natural gas supply. As a result, Egypt has been seeking additional ways to solidify its energy security, and nuclear power generation has been at the top of the list. Egypt expects to generate nearly 10 percent of its electricity requirements from nuclear energy by 2026, and plans to generate approximately half of its power needs by nuclear energy by 2050. Furthermore, Egypt will potentially benefit in other ways from its contract with Rosatom.

 

For example, Egypt is pursuing the development of its indigenous technical expertise through interaction with Russian nuclear energy specialists, alongside expected technology transfer.

 

Moreover, several years ago, Egypt discovered areas with high concentration of uranium. Egypt hopes to be able to focus on development of domestic uranium production in the near future to complement its progress in its nascent nuclear power industry.

 

Lastly, Egypt desires to diversify its geopolitical interactions, and rebuilding its historical partnership with Russia is key. Nuclear power development is one avenue, in conjunction with military, trade and fossil-fuel/renewable energy cooperation, in which Egypt will potentially recreate robust ties with the Russian Federation."

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