Construction of a nuclear power plant: more questions than answers
Russia and Belarus signed an agreement on the construction of the first nuclear power plant in Belarus. So far the agreement is only a declaration of intent and the fate of the Belarusian NPP has not yet been defined. Russia wants to be the co-owner of the Belarusian NPP, which is unacceptable for Belarus.
The “Atomstroiexport” and the “Management of a Nuclear Power Plant” (Belarus) signed an agreement on the construction of the first nuclear power plant in Belarus. Contractual arrangements define the basic provisions of the principal contract for the construction of two nuclear power units with a total generating capacity of it sB-941 reactors of up to 2400 megawatts in total. Atomstroiexport, a subsidiary company of Russia`s Nuclear Energy State Corporation (Rosatom), is to bear full responsibility for the project. The AES-2006 design has been selected for the plant.
Belarus expects to receive a USD 9 billion preferential loan from the Russian government for the construction of the NPP and infrastructure. Belarus would like to receive the loan for 25 years with deferred payment until the completion of the construction of the plant.
However, regardless of the signed agreement, the final cost of the project is still unknown. Also, neither party took the responsibility to voice the approximate dates of signing of the loan agreement. Terms and conditions of financing of the project have not been agreed either. Neither the schedule of expenses, nor the ditch has been prepared to the moment (though promised by summer).
Belarus expects to receive a USD 9 billion preferential loan from the Russian government for the construction of the NPP and infrastructure.
Sources in the Ministry of Energy say that there will be no final project cost, that Russia will open a credit line for Belarus in this regard of up to USD 10 billion. Russia wants to become the owner of the Belarusian nuclear power plant within the provided funding however, it is unacceptable for Belarus. The delay in signing of the loan agreement will affect the signing of all other contracts associated with the construction (e.g., concerning the equipment with a long production cycle (36 months or more)), which could significantly change the schedule of entry of the NPP in operation.
Last week, Belarusian Foreign Minister Makei participated in the foreign ministers’ meeting of the Eastern Partnership and Visegrad Group initiative hosted by Warsaw. The Belarusian FM emphasized Belarus' interest in cooperation in the transport sector, which could be due to Belarus’ desire to export electricity surplus after Belarus finished construction of the nuclear power plant in Ostrovets. Minsk expressed concerns about Warsaw’s stance on the Belarusian NPP, as it refused to buy electricity from Belarus and supported Vilnius’ protest on this issue. Following accusations by the Belarusian leadership and the state media against western states, including Poland, of training "nationalist militants", Minsk did not agree on the visit of the European Parliament deputies from Lithuania and Germany to Belarus and to the NPP construction site near Ostrovets in particular. In addition, the Belarusian authorities have stepped up efforts to enforce education in Russian in Polish-language schools in Grodno and Vaukavysk. Should a rift in Belarusian-Polish relations persist, the Belarusian authorities are likely to step up the pressure on the Polish-speaking minority in Belarus.