The Kola Project Management Unit

30 June 1998

The Project Management Unit (PMU) at the Kola nuclear power plant has now placed all the contracts for a number of safety improvement projects for the model V213s. These are funded by the Nuclear Safety Account (NSA) of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

The 14 safety improvement projects, listed in the table on p30, are the subject of a Grant Agreement between EBRD and the Russian Federation. This is one in a series of such Grant Agreements (see table below).

Kola is located 200 km within the Arctic Circle, and consequently the PMU faced operational problems due to its remote location and the harsh weather conditions.

Six Western companies were invited to bid in March 1995 for the contract to provide consultancy services to the Kola and Novovoronezh PMUs. The European Nuclear Assistance Consortium, ENAC (see panel) was selected as the preferred consultant. The 1.7 million ECU contract was signed in July 1995 – a similar contract was signed for Novovoronezh. However for a number of reasons, including the nuclear indemnity issue, the contract did not become effective until November 1995.

A PMU jointly staffed by Kola plant personnel and ENAC consultants was considered vital to ensure the proper management of this nuclear safety project. An objective of this joint team is to achieve the progressive handover of management responsibilities to Kola staff.

Two particular features of this project are:

• The contracting of the design and engineering activities mainly to the design institutes, Saint Petersburg Atomenergoproekt (SPAEP) and Gidropress in Moscow. SPAEP is the general designer of Kola, and was the main designer of the reactor and its control and instrumentation systems. Until recently the Russian design institutes worked together under a consortium arrangement known as MOHT OTJIG RM.

• The licensing of the design modifications, together with the surveillance of design, engineering, manufacturing and commissioning activities is being undertaken by Gosatomnadzor (GAN), the Russian State Nuclear Safety Authority.

Under a separate EBRD NSA grant agreement, GAN has been funded to cover the cost of Western consultants to support their safety assessment of engineering and other documentation.


The first major task of the PMU was to produce the quality, engineering and procurement documentation. This was completed within the first three months of the consultant’s contract, as a foundation for the issue of enquiries.

To speed up the process of establishing the PMU, it was agreed that the office equipment should all be purchased by the consultant in the UK and shipped to Kola, rather than be purchased in the Russian Federation. The desks, filing cabinets, computers, photocopiers and printers, with a year’s worth of consumables, were shipped in December 1995 via the Port of St Petersburg and arrived at Kola in early January 1996. Weather conditions accounted for some of the delays. There was a further three month delay in the release of the office equipment through the local customs.

Project items

Of the 14 project items listed, one item, the Complementary Feedwater System, was cancelled because the programme for its installation extended well into 1999 and hence was not compatible with the EBRD requirement for early shutdown for the Kola units.

The majority of the project hardware will be delivered to site in the autumn of 1998, with the objective of a maximum of installation and setting to work being completed by end 1998. Detailed planning is being undertaken to achieve this objective within the planned outage periods.

Lessons learned

Important lessons have been learned in driving forward a project such as this in a remote location in the Russian Federation.

The EBRD funded procurement activity had been delayed by almost two years against the original schedule. This was largely due to difficulties with the production of technical specifications of the required quality, and their approval by GAN. It was found that the Russians were not familiar with the requirements of international procurement in general and the way in which to specify the hardware in particular. To support and expedite the drafting of technical specifications, ENAC’s own engineers worked in the SPAEP offices in St Petersburg, and provided guidance to their Russian colleagues on the technical content and format of the specifications and assisted with the review of the draft documents.

In recognition of their lack of experience of international procurement and the Western way of working, ENAC has provided extensive training of the Kola personnel both in Russia and at the NNC offices in UK. This has covered project management, quality assurance and commercial matters and will be supplemented by visits to the suppliers’ works by Kola plant staff assisting and supporting quality audits, inspections and quality release procedures.

The tight schedule, the remoteness of Kola and the Arctic climate has required detailed planning of the procurement work, with every step in the operation being carefully considered and scheduled to ensure that contracts are placed at the earliest opportunity and so allow delivery dates to be met.

A particular requirement of the PMU has been the identification of potential suppliers, and in this respect the interest of around 120 companies was solicited before enquiries were issued. Whilst many companies had expressed an interest and requested copies of the invitations to tender, the number of bids received was lower that at other nuclear plants outside the Russian Federation, for example, for Ignalina in Lithuania.

An encouraging aspect of this NSA project however has been the placing of four contracts with Russian suppliers, who have all satisfied the extremely strict evaluation criteria with their offers.

To manage the design and its approval, a rigorous document submission and approval recording system is being used to ensure that suppliers’ meet their schedules and that the PMU maintains an `up to the minute’ picture of documentation status.


The managements of the Kola plant, ENAC and the PMU are confident that no further delays will be incurred, and that the project works will be completed before the end of 1998.

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