Egypt and Russia on 11 December finally, after prolonged negotiations, signed notices to proceed with contracts for the construction of four Russian-designed generation 3+ VVER-1200 reactor units at Egypt’s El Dabaa NPP on the Mediterranean coast.
The deal, signed during Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Cairo, comes after a November 2015 inter-governmental agreement, which included the provision of a Russian state-backed loan of $25bn for the $30bn project. The Russian loan will cover about 85% of the plant's construction costs, with Egypt contributing the rest from private investors.
The El Dabba 1 is scheduled to be commissioned in 2026, according to Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom. The contract also includes the construction of a purpose-built storage facility and the supply of containers for the storage of used nuclear fuel. Rosatom will also assist with operation and maintenance during the first ten years of the plant's operations.
Rosatom will help Egypt to develop its nuclear infrastructure, as well as increasing the level of localisation. Several dozens of Egyptian companies will be involved in the construction project, and the first unit is expected to have a localisation level of at least 20%, Rosatom said. Subsequent units will be "even more localised". Russia will support Egypt in training its nuclear personnel and working on public acceptance of nuclear energy. Future nuclear employees will be trained both in Russia and Egypt, with hundreds of Egyptian students to study nuclear disciplines in Russia over the next few years, Rosatom noted.
Rosatom director general Alexei Likhachev said the contracts were "a record-breaking deal in the history of the nuclear industry", as well as being the biggest non-feedstock deal in Russian history. "We offered our partners in Egypt a unique, comprehensive agreement that spans the power plant's entire life cycle of 70 to 80 years. "Rosatom is the only company in the world capable of providing the full range of peaceful nuclear services," he added. The development of Egypt's nuclear power industry is also important to Russia's economy as dozens of Rosatom companies will be awarded significant contracts, Likhachev said. The entire project is to be completed by 2028-29.
And an agreement was signed on 5 December detailing the construction of the used fuel storage facility. Rosatom’s Director of Public Policy on Radioactive Waste, Spent Nuclear Fuel and Nuclear Decommissioning, Oleg Kryukov, said: “At the request of the company’s Federal Centre for Nuclear and Radiation Safety, the fuel storage will be equipped with double transport-packing containers.”
The used fuel will eventually be transported back to Russia for reprocessing.