A joint Russian-Ukrainian fuel fabrication plant started construction on 4 October in Smolino village, Kirovograd district, Ukraine. The aim of the plant is to supply all fifteen Ukrainian nuclear reactors with fuel starting from 2015.

The plant will manufacture up to 800 TVSA fuel assemblies a year, Rusatom Overseas announced in a statement. And while the capacity is initially designated for Ukrainian fuel, nuclear fuel assemblies may, ‘in future,’ be supplied to third countries. TVSA fuel assemblies are currently used in VVER reactors at Russia’s Kalinin1-4, Kozloduy 5&6 in Bulgaria, Temelin 1&2 in the Czech Republic, as well as at 13 units in Ukraine.

The total project cost is expected to reach $462.5 million, Rusatom said. The first phase of construction will amount to some $324.5 million, including $30 million for manufacturing equipment, which will be supplied by TVEL. This phase of the project is scheduled for completion in 2015.

The second phase of construction is expected to cost approximately $138 million, and again equipment will be supplied by TVEL.

Commenting on the event, Ukrainian prime minister Nikolay Azarov said: “I am really glad that the implementation of such a great project has started today. It must be the most large-scale project since the independence, which is to serve the energy independence of Ukraine.”

Head of Rosatom, Sergey Kirienko also confirmed that Russia and Ukraine are negotiating the possibility of establishing a joint uranium enrichment plant in Russia. “We’ve agreed on the principle that it could be a joint venture (on uranium enrichment) situated on the Russian territory,” he said.

If the project were to go ahead, the Russian party would own 50% plus one share of the project, with the remaining shares belonging to the Ukrainian partner. “This is important, because the country, on the territory of which the facilities are situated, bears responsibility for its safe operations” Kirienko added.