Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom on 19 June agreed to sell a 49% stake in the NPP Akkuyu project in Turkey to Turkish investors. The stake was sold for an undisclosed amount to the CKK consortium of energy companies comprising Cengiz Holding, Kolin İnşaat Turizm Sanayi ve Ticaret and JSC "Kalyon İnşaat. The agreement was signed on the side lines of the IX AtomExpo International Forum in Moscow. It sets out the main conditions for the companies to buy the 49% stake in project company JSC Akkuyu Nuclear, which is currently wholly owned by Rosatom subsidiary JSC Rusatom Energy International. 

Rosatom will retain 51% of the shares in the project, which it described as the biggest foreign investment into a Russian nuclear project abroad in 17 years. Rosatom deputy director-general for development and international business Kirill Komarov said the parties aim to "close this deal before the end of the year" after gaining approval from shareholders and the Turkish government.

Rosatom said the consortium plans to take an active role in plant construction and management of JSC Akkuyu Nuclear. Cengiz Holding is already involved in the project as a contractor for the turnkey construction of offshore hydraulic structures under a contract signed in June 2015 for the design and construction of offshore waterworks plant.

Cengiz Construction chair Mehmet Cengiz told the Anadolu news agency that talks concerning the deal have taken two years. “Construction work will start this year. Turkey needs to learn about nuclear energy and Russia is a key partner in this area. If we can cooperate in the Akkuyu project, we can strengthen our expertise in nuclear energy,” he said.

Komarov told World Nuclear News: "This is a critical event for us as it the first time we are partnering with such a big consortium of private investors. In Finland, the model already existed and we are a junior partner, but in Turkey it's the opposite." He added, "What's important is that the companies that are partners that have joined this project are Turkish construction companies that have not yet constructed nuclear power plants, but have constructed large-scale industrial facilities, like bridges and airports."

Turkey and Russia signed an intergovernmental agreement in 2010 to construct Turkey’s first NPP in the southern province of Mersin’s Akkuyu under a build-own-operate model, with Russian companies holding minimum 51% stake in the project. In October 2011, the Turkish Atomic Energy Agency (TAEK) gave JSC Akkuyu Nuclear a site licence, and in December 2014 the Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning approved an environmental impact assessment.

The NPP will comprise four 1,200MWe Gidropress-designed AES-2006 VVER pressurised water reactors and is being financed by Russia. According to Sputnik news agency, Russia's investments in the project will amount to $22bn. The NPP is scheduled to start operations on 29 October 2023 – the centenary of the founding of the Republic of Turkey. The project is expected to meet 6-7% of Turkey’s electricity demand after it is completed.

Turkish grid operator TETAS has guaranteed investors in the project around $123 per MWh for 70% of the output of the first two reactors and 30% of the second two, with the remainder being sold on the open market. Rosatom is to pay 20% of its total profit back to the Turkish state after the first 15 years. Rosatom will provide the fuel for the lifetime of the plant, and manage its disposal.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s Energy Market Regulatory Authority (EPDK) has given a power generation licence to JSC Akkuyu Nuclear for a 49-year period starting on 15 June, replacing a three-year provisional licence granted in June 2015.  EPDK said the main construction permit and first concrete pouring at Akkuyu are expected in March 2018.

JSC Akkuyu Nuclear is expecting final approval for the use of land from the Ministry of Forestry and the Ministry of Finance. In addition, the Turkish Atomic Energy Agency (TAEK) is shortly expected to issue a limited building permit to allow the start of construction of the non-nuclear parts of the plant such as the foundation pit for the reactor island, the construction of the turbine island, accessory buildings and other structures.