Belarus NPP affected by labour shortages

6 December 2016

Builders are leaving the Belarusian NPP because of falling wages, according to the November bulletin of the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation. Russian authorities in conjunction with the Belarusian State Control Committee checked the progress of the plant from May to September and found that general contractor Atomstroyexport (part of Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom) did not meet the construction schedule. As a result construction and installation work achieved only 80% of the target, and supply of equipment 90%.

The Belarus NPP, under construction in the Grodno region near Ostrovets, will consist of two units with a total capacity of up to 2,400MWe. Commissioning of the first unit is scheduled for 2019, and the second in 2020. As part of the construction project, being undertaken by Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom, Russia is providing Belarus with a $10bn loan.

Currently, there is non-compliance with the work schedule on the first unit, which is 1-3 months behind.  Delays on the reactor compartment are put at 2-3 months; on the turbine department, the building of nuclear service, vent and diesel power at 2 months; and on the pumping station, up to 2.5 months.

One of the main causes of the failure to meet the schedule is the insufficient number of construction personnel on site. "Currently, at the construction site there is a shortage of workers and specialists totalling about 800 people," the inspection bodies noted. Some contractors were forced to pull out because of the difficult financial situation, caused by, among other things, by the devaluation of the Russian ruble.

"We fought for maximum localisation for the Belarus NPP project, making maximum use of our   construction companies. During the excavation work, the result was good. But with installation of equipment, the schedule began slipping. Then it was decided, in addition to the Belarusian construction companies to bring in Russian companies," Anatoly Bondar chief engineer of the Belarus NPP project company told Atomstroyexport was informed of the decision.

Atomstroyexport and Belarus NPOP are now working together together to attract both Russian and Belarusian subcontractors "to ensure the timely execution of construction and installation work in accordance with the schedule”, and Rosatom "undertakes constant monitoring of the performance of contractual obligations of the parties in a timely manner and take all necessary measures for their effective implementation", the press service of Atomstroyexport said.

Rosatom had tightened control over the implementation of the obligations under the agreement on cooperation between the Belarus and the Russian governments for construction of the plant. A joint steering committee, comprising representatives of the Belarus Ministry of Energy and Rosatom has been set up to monitor the situation on a monthly basis.

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