Nuclear News Round Up for September 3, 2016

Ukraine’s Energoatom And South Korea’s KHNP Sign Cooperation Agreement

(NucNet) Ukraine’s national nuclear energy generating company Energoatom and South Korea’s nuclear operator Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP) have signed a memorandum of understanding aiming to improve bilateral cooperation in the nuclear industry.

The main focus of the cooperation efforts will include the completion of Units 3 and 4 of the Khmelnitski nuclear power station in western Ukraine. Both reactors are Russian designed VVERs. Work began on them in the 1980s, but they remain less than half built.

Sok Cho, chief executive of KHNP, said he remains “firmly convinced” that the completion of Khmelnitski-3 and -4 “will be successful” if Energoatom and KHNP “work together toward a common goal.”

There are several reasons to be skeptical about the deal.

  • Ability of Ukraine to pay for the reactors. The country can’t or won’t pay for Russian gas.
  • Supply Chain in Ukraine and use of Odessa as port of entry for large components. The Russians are not going to sell components to the South Korean EPC.
  • Ongoing Russian sponsored military hostilities in eastern provinces which have the objective of destabilizing the current Ukrainian government.

As for what South Korea is thinking, here are a few ideas.

  • Based on its success in the UAE, S. Korea feels that they are up to any challenge including dealing with all the dysfunctional forces in Ukraine.
  • S. Korea has mis-read or does not take seriously Russia’s intentions to recapture the Ukraine breadbasket before China finishes buying all of its output.
  • Memorandums for cooperation among nations on nuclear energy are a dime a dozen and timeless in that they have infinite shelf life with no money changing hands. S. Korea also inked this week a similar agreement with Kenya.
  • S. Korea’s counterparts in Ukraine having inked a deal for a nuclear fuel plant with Westinghouse last April now feel confident to finish the two partially built reactors since the plant will provide reliable fuel services for it and their other 15 reactors.

Ukraine To continue efforts to diversify nuclear supplies / services

(NucNet) Ukraine’s national nuclear operator Energoatom will continue to diversify its supply of nuclear materials and services, Yuri Nedashkovsky, Energoatom’s president, was quoted as saying in a statement on the company’s website.

Mr Nedashkovsky spoke at a media briefing after Energoatom and the Anglo-German-Dutch company Urenco signed a contract for Urenco to supply uranium enrichment services to Ukraine. The Ukraine government also signed a uranium mining agreement with state owned uranium firms in Kazakhstan.

Nedashkovsky said Energoatom is “on the path of diversification of supply in several ways” including work by Westinghouse in manufacturing nuclear fuel assemblies for Ukraine’s Soviet-built VVER reactors.

Ukraine has 15 reactors in commercial operation, all of the VVER type. They produced about 56 percent of the country’s electricity in 2015, according to data by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

IAEA sees Asia as driver of nuclear energy

(WNN) Asia is one of the regions where nuclear energy is “high on the agenda” and could be one of the drivers for global nuclear power deployment, according to the deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Speaking at a conference in Manila, Mikhail Chudakov said, “There are several member states already operating nuclear power plants, and many more aspiring states [are] exploring the potential for developing nuclear power programs in this region.”

There are currently 128 nuclear power reactors operable in five Southeast Asian countries plus Taiwan with a total generating capacity of more than 100 GWe. There are also 40 units under construction and firm plans in place to build dozens more. 

Prospects for restart of TEPCO’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant get a boost

(Oil Price) Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc.’s (TEPCO) plan to restart the defunct Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant has an increased chance of being implemented after the prefecture governor, who has campaigned against its reopening, decided against running for re-election, according to a new report by Bloomberg.

TEPCO shares rose as much as 12 percent Wednesday morning – the largest price jump since May 2015, presumably in reaction to the announcement.

Niigata prefecture governor Hirohiko Izumida said he would not pursue a bid for a fourth term for the October 16th elections. The governor has long opposed plans to return the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant – the largest of its kind in the world – to production.

Izumida has previously demanded that TEPCO, who also owns the Fukushima Daichi and Daini facilities, conduct further investigations into the causes of the triple meltdown at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant in 2011 before proposing plans to restart any of the firm’s reactors.

“The next Niigata governor will likely not make as many relentless demands as Izumida,” Japanese analyst Hidetoshi Shioda said.

Japan may give up on fast breeder reactor project

(Japan Times) The government is considering scrapping the troubled Monju fast-breeder reactor after calculating that readying it for restart would cost too much.

A political decision on decommissioning the reactor is now in sight, with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said as he participated in talks to determine its fate.

The facility in Fukui Prefecture has been beset by safety problems and has only been operational for a total of 250 days since it first went critical in 1994.

Decommissioning Monju would deal a serious blow to the nation’s “plutonium economy” policy, in which the reactor was designed to play a central role. The plan is to develop a commercial fast-breeder reactor that produces more plutonium than it consumes.

The science ministry has been trying, without success, to find a new entity to run the reactor, which is currently operated by the government-backed Japan Atomic Energy Agency.

The ministry was ordered to do this by the Nuclear Regulation Authority in November, after the NRA expressed exasperation with the operator’s consistent failures.

In either case, substantial amounts of money are needed. The agency estimated in 2012 that it would cost around ¥300 billion to scrap the reactor in a process lasting over 30 years.

Russia and Turkey ‘Considering’ joint funding for Akkuyu nuclear project

(NucNet)  Russia and Turkey may set up a joint investment fund for the construction of the Akkuyu nuclear power station, Nihat Zeybekchi, Turkey’s minister of the economy, was quoted as saying by Russian state-controlled news agency RIA Novosti.

Akkuyu, near Mersin on the country’s southern Mediterranean coast, is to be built in cooperation with Russian state-owned nuclear corporation Rosatom under a contract signed in late 2010. The station will have four 1,200 MW VVER units and is scheduled to start power production by the end of 2022. There is no public certainty about the cost of the project, but earlier media reports have estimated it at some $20bn (€17bn).

Russia had proposed to finance 50% of the plant cost with the rest coming from Turkish or international investors. So far Rosatom has been unsuccessful in its quest for capital.

Plan for nuclear reactor for Jordan to get feasibility study

(WNN) A feasibility study on the construction of nuclear power plants in Jordan is to be prepared in the first half of next year, Sergey Kirienko, director general of the Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom said. Kirienko spoke to reporters at the second Eastern Economic Forum that opened today in the Russian city Vladivostock.

In March 2015, Russia and Jordan signed an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in the construction and operation of two 1000 MWe VVER units at Az-Zarqa in central Jordan.

“The feasibility study will provide answers to questions about financing the project,” Kirienko said, as quoted by TASS news agency.

The total estimated cost of the project is $10 billion, with 30% to be financed in equal parts by Jordan as a customer and Russia as the reactor vendor. Negotiations are under way on securing the remaining funding.

Khaled Toukan, chairman of the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission, recently told local media that the country’s first nuclear power plant could be operational by 2025, if sufficient financing is secured.

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