Ukrainian nuclear utility Energoatom is unable to meet payments for fresh nuclear fuel and materials, and for the export of used nuclear fuel, after its bank accounts were frozen on the order of Justice Minister Pavel Petrenko. Energoatom said on 26 April that the situation could delay the supply of fuel to Ukrainian NPPs, incur penalties from fuel suppliers for late payment, and impact the wages of its staff. The accounts were frozen in March as a result of court action brought in August 2011 by joint venture company Ukrelektrovat, which claims Energoatom owes it UAH127.3m ($5m). Energoatom said it had delivered an ‘open letter’ to Petrenko, calling on him to reverse his action.

Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom said on 26 April that under the contract between fuel company Tvel and Energoatom both the supply and the production of fresh nuclear fuel for Ukrainian NPPs is carried out on a prepaid basis. Advance payments are received by Tvel 150 days before the delivery date, during which time the required fuel assemblies are manufactured. Ukraine has so far not defaulted on any payments and currently, Ukrainian NPPs have a enough Russian-made fresh fuel for stable operation. However, the freezing of the accounts may affect the schedule of nuclear fuel fabrication in the medium term, Interfax reported.

The return of used fuel to Russia is also prepaid and unless the accounts are reactivated the transportation of used fuel, scheduled for May could be cancelled or delayed. On 26 April, some 200 employees of Ukraine’s NPPs picketed the building of the Justice Ministry in Kiev, Ukrainian news agency Unian reported. They were demanding that Energoatom’s accounts should be unfrozen.