Ukrainian nuclear utility Energoatom on 28 October signed several documents on cooperation with Belgian companies Transnubel Engineering and Tractebel Engineering.

A protocol of cooperation envisages the participation of Tractebel Engineering in implementing a programme to increase the safety of reactors of Ukrainian NPPs. The companies are also interested in joint work on a project to increase the capacity of VVER-1000 reactors in Ukraine. In addition, Tractebel Engineering is ready to provide engineering and technical support to complete construction of Khmelnytsky 3&4.

Energoatom operates Ukraine’s four nuclear power plants including 15 VVER reactors with an overall generating capacity of 13.8GWe. Tractebel Engineering is part of the GDF Suez group.

The talks with Electrabel came immediately after meetings between Energoatom and US-based Westinghouse, which has also stated its intention of assisting Ukraine’s nuclear development in order to support Ukraine’s broader policy of moving away from dependence on Russia in the energy field. This was reaffirmed following a high-level meeting between the president and CEO of Westinghouse Electric, Danny Roderick, and Ukraine President Petr Poroshenko, during a visit to Kiev by a US delegation headed by US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. As a result of the negotiations, the Ukraine supported a comprehensive upgrade programme at its NPPs proposed by Westinghouse Electric aimed at raising efficiency increasing safety.

Implementation of the programme will facilitate further integration of Ukraine into the European united energy market, Roderick stated.
In late September, Ukraine’s parliament approved a bill renouncing an earlier intergovernmental agreement with Russia on the construction of two new reactor units at the Khmelnitsky. The intergovernmental agreement was signed in June 2010 by the administration of then-president Viktor Yanukovich and was ratified by parliament in 2011.

Construction of Khmelnytsky 3 had begun in September 1985 and of Khmelnytsky 4 in June 1986.Work stopped in 1990 when they were 75% and 28% complete. Under the new agreement, Russia undertook to secure the necessary financing.

In February 2011, Atomstroyexport, a subsidiary of Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom, signed a contract with Energoatom for the development of the technical design for Khmelnitsky 3&4, with construction expected to be completed by the end of 2016. The deal collapsed following the crisis between Ukraine and Russia and in July 2015 the Ukrainian cabinet renounced the cooperation agreement and introduced the relevant bill to the parliament for ratification.
Ukraine is hoping to win US financial assistance for the reactor upgrades. The US delegation included representatives of Cargill, Citibank, DuPont, Honeywell and NCH Capital Inc. In a statement on his official website, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Ukraine hopes to receive additional funding from US institutions, including the US Export-Import and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

The move away from Russia also extends to the fuel cycle, where Russia currently supplies all the fuel for Ukraine’s nuclear plants. Energoatom has states its intention to buy some fuel in future from Westinghouse, despite earlier unsuccessful experiments in this regard in 2009. In December 2014 Energoatom and Westinghouse Electric signed a contract, envisaging "a substantial increase in deliveries" of the US nuclear fuel to Ukraine by 2020. At the meeting with the US Secretary of Commerce, Yatsenyuk said the project of diversification of nuclear fuel supplies was very successful and could attract US financial support. "We hope we have a possibility of getting additional funding, including from Ex-Im Bank to continue this project," he said.

Fuel was also discussed at the meeting with Belgian company Transnubel Engineering including the possibility of delivering fuel for Ukrainian reactors from Sweden’s Westinghouse plant. "Transnubel is one of the European leaders in the area of transportation of radioactive materials and affiliated services. The procedures and service provision standards are in line with the EU requirements, ensuring the highest safety level during transportation of radioactive materials," Energoatom said.

Also in October, Minister of energy and coal industry Vladimir Demchishin told a press conference that Ukraine intended to terminate its agreement with Russia on the construction of a fuel assembly fabrication plant which was to be built at Smolino. The agreement was signed by Russian fuel company TVEL and Ukrainian State Concern Nuclear Fuel in October 2010 after the tender which had also involved Westinghouse. A foundation agreement on establishing a joint venture (PJSC NF Plant) was signed in September 2011. The shareholders were to contribute to the authorised fund of JV NF Plant $120m, of which $20m were paid in 2012. The additional issues of shares in 2013 with JSC TVEL paying $42m was invalidated when Ukraine failed to make its contribution.

Photo: An agreement was signed between Energoatom, Transnubel and Tractebel Engineering in October