Turkey and Russia accelerate Akkuyu nuclear project

14 March 2017

Russian President Vladimir Putin expects that in the near future Turkey’s Akkuyu nuclear power plant will be given the status of a strategic investment. He told a press conference on 10 March, following the meeting of the Russian-Turkish Cooperation Council, that both the Akkuyu project and the Turkish Stream pipeline project, which can be used to transit gas to Europe, aimed to ensure energy security in the region. He also said that a Russian-Turkish investment fund with a capital of up to $1bn had been created to stimulate mutual investments.

Moscow and Ankara signed an agreement to construct and operate Turkey’s first NPP at Akkuyu in Mersin province in May 2010. The $20bn build-own-operate project is for four Russian VVER-1200 pressurised water reactors, which will produce up to 35TWh a year. In December 2014, Turkey’s Ministry of Environment and Urban Development approved an environmental impact assessment report, and a ceremony laying the foundation for the offshore structures of the plant was held in April 2015. However, construction was frozen for several months following the crisis in relations between Turkey and Russia over actions in Syria.

With relations now repaired, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on 10 March that construction of the Akkuyu plant could be completed as planned in 2023, when Turkey celebrates the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Republic, provided the Turkish authorities issue all necessary permits.

Akkuyu Nuclear, the joint stock company in charge of the project, applied for a construction licence to the Turkish Atomic Energy Authority (Taek) on 3 March, according to Turkish state-controlled news agency Anadolu. Anastasia Zoteeva, Director General of Rusatom Energy International (part of Rosatom, and the main shareholder of the project company) said the full licence is expected in 2018, but this summer the company expects to receive a limited building permit which will enable it to begin construction of the non-nuclear part of the plant, such as the turbine island, as well as auxiliary buildings.

Kirill Komarov, First Deputy CEO for Corporate Development and International Business at Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom said on 9 March that Russia’s cooperation in construction of the Akkuyu NPP will determine the partnership with Turkey in the nuclear sphere for the next hundred years. The head of the Department of Technical Regulation at Akkuyu Nuclear, Igor Kogay, explained to Anadolu that this will be the world’s first BOO construction project, which means the company is responsible not only for design, construction, maintenance and operation of the plant, but also decommissioning.

Russia is also responsible for training specialists and operators for the plant and on 8 March a memorandum of understanding was signed on the sidelines of the fourth international summit on nuclear power in Istanbul, for wide ranging cooperation in research, education and training for NPPs and nuclear research facilities in Turkey. The signatories were the Ankara Chamber of Industry and several Russian further education colleges including the Rosatom Central Institute for Continuing Education and Training, and the Training Centre for Personnel of the Nuclear Industry Construction Sector. The deal is aimed at providing skilled personnel to ensure a greater domestic share in the construction of nuclear power facilities in Turkey.

Photo: The International summit on nuclear power plants took place in Istanbul in March (Credit: JSC Akkuyu)

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