Armenia will use new funds to upgrade nuclear plant in face of pandemic delays

Armenia has decided to use new funding arrangements to upgrade the Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant, Minister of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure Suren Papikyan, told parliament on 7 May.

Russia had previously funded upgrading of the plant.

"Armenia considers it right to attract new financial resources," Papikyan explained. "We are negotiating with our partners not to extend the agreement that has expired."

Currently, renovation work at the plant is being financed with a loan of up to $270 million, and a $30 million grant provided by Russia.

"Earlier, it was planned to start repayments in 2020, then that was postponed for a year," the minister said. The postponement was agreed in December 2019. "But now there is a risk that the work will be delayed due to the spread of coronavirus. That's why when the time comes to repay the loans, it is possible that the work will not be completed in full."

Papikyan noted that Armenia has loans that it has received for other purposes but has not yet used. He said loans could be used to upgrade the plant.

There is concern that pandemic restriction may prevent Russian specialists from undertaking the work on schedule. Repair work was postponed in April.  

Generators and turbines have already been replaced at the Metsamor station. In 2020, the reactor pressure vessel will be prepared for annealing the reactor shell, which theoretically could extend its lifespan beyond 2026.