Russian generating company Inter RAO has sold its stake in Akkuyu Nuclear (which is implementing a project to build the first nuclear power plant in Turkey) for RUB1.026 billion ($14m), according to Inter RAO's 2020 RAS report, made public on 11 February. In the 4th quarter of 2020, Inter RAO sold the 333,300 shares it held in Akkuyu Nuclear, which is 0.8207% of the authorised capital.  The buyer was not disclosed, however, the offer to buy out Inter RAO's stake had been considered by Akkuyu Nuclear, the press service of Rusatom Energo International told Interfax.

At the end of October 2020, the board of directors of Inter RAO approved the termination of the company's participation in Akkuyu Nuclear, in which the generating company had 0.82% of the shares. In addition to Inter RAO, the company's shareholders at that time were Rusatom Overseas (74.915%), Atomstroyexport (2.267%), Rosenergoatom Concern (21.948%), Atomtekhenergo (0.025%) and Atomenergoremont (0.025 %).

The Akkuyu NPP construction project, the first in Turkey, is being implemented by Akkuyu Nuclear following an intergovernmental agreement signed between Russian and Turkey in 2010. The Akkuyu NPP with four VVER-1200 units is being constructed on a build-own-operate basis by Rosatom, with commissioning of the first unit  planned for 2023.

Inter RAO took part in this project when a consortium was formed to participate in the tender for construction of the plant was announced in 2008 by the Turkish authorities. At that time, Inter RAO, which joined the consortium with Atomstroyexport, was a monopoly in the export and import of electricity and had not yet acquired the role of a consolidator of Russian generation, which the company inherited after the liquidation of RAO UES of Russia.

Petrozavodskmash the Petrozavodsk branch of AEM-Technologies (part of Rosatom's engineering division Atomenergomash)  on 11 February shipped the first batch of pipe assemblies of the main circulation pipeline (MCP) for Akkuyu unit 1. Petrozavodskmash assembled 20 tube assemblies from 34 pipe blanks, as well as sets of rings for certification of welding technology and certification of welders at installation. During the manufacturing process, the inner surface of the pipes is clad with a stainless layer, fittings and branch pipes are welded to the blanks, after which they are assembled into pipe assemblies. The equipment, weighing 265 tons, was shipped from the plant by road and will be transported 5,000 kilometres in about two weeks. 

The previous day, the St Petersburg Polytechnic University (SPbPU) announced that it is organising a third intake of graduates from Turkish universities for free master's degree studies as part of an educational programme initiated by Akkuyu Nuclear. In total it is planned to recruit 25 people who will receive education in the areas of heat power engineering and heat engineering  as well as  electric power engineering and electrical engineering. The courses are conducted in English.

The term of study for the master's programme is two years, suring which participants, in addition to core disciplines, will master the Russian language. Those  who successfully complete the programme will then undergo practical training at Rosatom training centres  for 1 to 3 years. Participants receive a scholarship comprising RUB32,000 a month, accommodation, medical insurance and an annual trip home.  The training takes place at the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI (NRNU MEPhI) and  SPbPU. The first students from Turkey started their studies at Russian universities in 2011. In 2018, 35 students completed training, followed by 53 in 2019 and 55 in 2020, all of whom were hired by Akkuyu Nuclear. Currently, 150 Turkish students are studying at MEPhI and SPbPU.

In an interview with Bloomberg HT on 8 February Akkuyu Nuclear CEO Anastasia Zoteeva said one unit of the NPP will be commissioned each year between 2023 and 2026. She said Turkish personnel would replace Russian personnel in 10-12 years. She said everything was on schedule despite the pandemic. Some 8,000 people are involved in the construction. “These include workers, engineers, and managers. And 80% of them are Turkish citizens. This will increase to 12,000 people at the peak period of construction. Once in operation, the project will employ 4,000.

Zoteeva added that the supply chain consists of more than 400 companies, most of them are local companies. "There will be a localisation worth $5 billion in this project. Almost all metal details are produced in Turkey … We have spent a lot of time training Turkish companies on how to meet the high standards of the nuclear specification.”