Engineering and environmental studies for the Rooppur nuclear power plant in Bangladesh are expected to begin ‘in the near future’ and last for around 18-months, Bangladesh ambassador to Russia Saiful Hoque told reporters in St. Petersburg on 27 June.

Hoque was speaking during a press conference at the International Atomic Energy Agency’s ministerial conference ‘Nuclear Power in the 21st Century’ in St. Petersburg.

The previous day at the Atomexpo 2013 forum, also in St Petersburg, the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission signed an agreement with Russia’s NIAEP AtomStroyExport to develop documentation for an environmental impact assessment (EIA) and to substantiate investment in the project.

Valery Limarenko, president of NIAEP-ASE said that the next steps would be the signature of two contracts for project development and the implementation of priority construction works.

Russia has already agreed a $500 million loan to finance the construction of a two-unit nuclear power station at Rooppur. Hoque said the sources of further loans, which will be used to finance 90% of the project, will be negotiated during the study period.

The Rooppur nuclear power plant is expected to provide 10-15% of Bangladesh’s electricity requirements, according to Hoque. He added that 40% of the population does not have access to adequate electricity, which is why the development of a nuclear plant is so important for the economy of Bangladesh.