Turkey is ready to give a special status to the Akkuyu NPP construction project, said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan following his talks with President of Russia Vladimir Putin in Moscow on 9 August. The Intergovernmental agreement between Russia and Turkey on cooperation in the construction and operation the NPP was signed in 2010. The project is the first Turkish NPP and comprises four 1,200MWe VVER reactors. The cost of the project was reported to be approximately $20bn.

However, progress on the project had been stalled as a result of political tensions between Russia and Turkey over Syria and legal obstacles. In May, Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom had said amendments to three Turkish laws were needed before Russia could go ahead.  Roman Dyukerev, a spokesman for Rosatom Energy International, said Russia had been waiting for five years for the three laws to be amended and “nothing has happened”. He noted that one law prevents the cutting down of olive trees on the proposed site;   another means the shape of the seafront cannot be altered to allow for construction of intake and outlet channels, and a third prevents foreign producers of electricity from selling it. Despite this, early June reports had said the project company Akkuyu Nuclear hoped to obtain the generation licence in the third quarter of this year and the construction license was expected in 2018.

Now, it seems the project is going to be fast-tracked, with Turkey promising changes in legislation and other preferential treatment. “We are ready to give the status of a strategic investment to the Akkuyu project and we have reached agreements on this issue,” Erdogan said, adding that the Turkey “intends to make the decision as soon as possible”. “Thus, the Akkuyu project will enjoy all necessary reliefs given by this status.” Russia’s minister of energy Alexander Novak said the special status will include tax relief. “This includes the profit tax relief, i.e. the rate reduction during 20 years, as well as return of VAT during NPP construction period,” Novak said. The special status also will “give an opportunity to attract privileged investments in the project implementation”, he added.