Chinese company wants to build Belarus' first nuclear plant

12 August 2008 - China's Guangdong Nuclear Power Group has expressed its intention to participate in the construction of Belarus's first-ever nuclear power plant, Belarusian Deputy Energy Minster Mikhail Mikhadzyuk has said.

"China has 20 years of experience in the construction and maintenance of nuclear power plants, and that is why we will consider this proposal of the Chinese side for possible cooperation in the development of a nuclear power industry in Belarus," Mikhadzyuk said.

He said that cooperation could have various forms, such as supplies of equipment and services. China also could provide loans to fund the project, he said.

The Belarusian government sent an invitation to submit bids to three companies, including Russia's Atomstroyeksport, the French-German Areva Group and US-Japanese Westinghouse Toshiba. The former two accepted the invitation, while the latter reportedly never replied by the deadline, 1 August, according to earlier reports.

The deputy minister said that Westinghouse Toshiba had replied, saying that Belarus should first sign an intergovernmental agreement with the United States on the peaceful use of nuclear power. "At the same time, they said that it would take a few years to conclude such an agreement," he said.

Rosatom that controls Atomstroiexport confirmed its readiness to build the plant under a turnkey contract and "study issues concerning the provision of funds for this project," Mikhadzyuk said.

Mikhadzyuk said that the Belarusian government was examining all proposals.

Talks with Areva were postponed to a later date, Belarusian officials said last week.

Belarus plans to start the construction of the nuclear power plant in 2009. The government is considering three possible locations for the plant: near the village of Kukshynava between Horki and Shklow, Mahilyow region; in the Astravets district, Hrodna region; and near the village of Chyrvonaya Palyana near Bykhaw, Mahilyow region.

The 2000 MW plant is supposed to supply some 15 percent of the country's electricity needs. One of the two 1000 MW reactors is to be put into operation in 2016 and the other one in 2018.



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