The project of “Rosatom”, targeted at european market

At the moment Kaliningrad region does not lack electric power, this is the main factor, in respect with which ecologists state, that there is no need in Baltic NPP. This is stated by the Leader of the Russian organization “Ekozashchita” (Ecodefense) Vladimir Slivyak, who deals with the issues of the BNPP from the very occurrence of this project in Russian enclave. 

To his mind, BNPP is a strictly export oriented project, and it is not needed for the region. Also, it is the first project, when nuclear industry has such cynical approach towards the citizens of the country, where it is based, i.e. towards the Russians. In the essence, nuclear power is produced, wastes remain not only in Kaliningrad region, but also in other regions, i.e. in Russia”, — he considers. Moreover, BNPP even does not plan to pay taxes into the regional budget, which has been recently confirmed by Kaliningrad Governor in his statement. This is the practice of Russian authorities.

 Ecologists also point out to the banks, which are potentially observed by Russian as investors, that there are great doubts whether the area for the plant construction is appropriate. Literally 50 meters from the construction area, one may see water coming out to the surface, subterranean waters are really high there, and as the sources in Kaliningrad government specified, Russian norms were not observed at choosing the area. Hydrologic analysis, according to ecologists, were not sufficient. Instead of multiple urgent wells, only about a dozen was drilled. Although about 100 is needed. According to a sociologic poll among the citizens of the region on their attitude towards the plant construction, 67% were against.

 After study of the documents regarding the reactor ВВР1200, which “Rosatom” intends to set in BNPP, ecologists also have doubts. “Rosatom” does not perform modeling of this design on the issue of possible plane crush into the reactor. After September 11th it has become a standard in other countries. For ВВР1200 and in Russia no such modeling has been performed. There are no ВВР1200 reactors in Russia yet and they are only under construction in Voronezh and Saint-Petersburg, and at BNPP as we may consider. Except for that, it is already known, that “Petrozavodskmash”, where the gathering of the reactor of BNPP as planned, has gone out of the play.

 Ecologists are trying to focus the attention of banks on that in recent years there have been many corruption scandals in Russia, connected with nuclear industry. One time at Beloyarsk plant they have detected unlicensed workers from Middle Asia, moreover they were not even paid. There as an accident by the construction of the new Leningrad NPP. There have never been such violations even in the USSR. Also there were problems with China where Russia constructed a reactor for Tianvian plant. They claimed the quality of equipment. Except for that there as a scandal with the company “SiO Podolsk”, which manufactures main components for NPP in different countries. It turned out, that for many years the company has purchased materials, particularly steel of non-proper grade and much cheaper.

 Today it is evident, that the Baltic NPP project is a part of policy of Russian company “Rosatom” on energy expansion to the power market of Europe. Russian company is trying to gain in Europe a confirmation of that European as if are ready to purchase power, produced at this plant. This is all has been done to show Lithuania and Poland, that “big countries” has already decided everything so there is no sense to resist. Simultaneously with the BNPP project the project for the construction of Ostrovets NPP in Belarus occurred, which confirms such strategy. Approximately between 2007 and 2008 “Rosatom” was performing the plan of construction of several NPPs along the border with the EU in order to gain access to power supplies from these NPPs to the countries of Europe.

 In Belarus there is already a line which leads to Lithuania, Kaliningrad region of Russia has no sufficient lines to connect with Lithuania and Poland, which from technical point of view could be used for electric power supplies. However, there is a pretty expensive plan to construct these lines. But Lithuania and Poland are an obstacle in this issue.

 At first “Rosatom” was not really concerned about how to gain access to European networks. They counted on that Poland and Lithuania would agree. Later it became known that Lithuania and Poland do not really want to let electric power from BNPP into European network. Eventually “Rosatom” started to search European companies that would like to conclude contracts to import power, simultaneously they were searching for the companies that would like to invest into this project. For example, the companies in Germany or France, that would pressure the governments of Lithuania and Poland.

 “Rosatom” applied to French and German banks and at the moment the company stakes at France. A French bank “BNP Paribas” in due time as strongly pro-nuclear, wished to finance the “Rosatom’s” project in Bulgaria. No they will not participate in the BNPP project. Another French bank “Credit Agricole” also officially replied that it will not participate. The main focus is not concentrated at the bank “Societe Generale” which is strongly interested in friendship with Russian Government. Moscow kindly asked this bank to grant funds from the French company Alston to supply turbines for the BNPP. But “Rosatom” does not need Alston turbines. It has always used other technologies. They also don’t need money from Europe as it has unlimited credit from Russian budget. The evident reason of the interest to these banks is the desire to get the confirmation that Europe has accepted the BNPP project, the attempt of “Rosatom” via France to get the confirmation that Europe is interested in electric power produced at the BNPP.

 The Baltic NPP for Russia is an individual precedent, as for the first time in the history of the country the NPP is being constructed not for domestic needs, but for electric power export. For the first time it as decided that the NPP shall be a joint-stock company. Earlier the plants belonged only to the state.

 The plans of “Rosatom” on the BNPP construction as well as the Ostrovets project in Belarus, on wide-scale supplies of energy to Europe are quite doubtful. Energy turns is happening in Germany. The same is happening in France. The President F. Hollande has come with his program, a part of which is reduction of dependence from nuclear power. Other countries also work under renewable energy sources. However, the governments of old Europe do not seriously counteract the projects of “Rosatom”. This is self-confidence as the plan to construct multiple NPPs along the border of the EU accomplishes, “Rosatom” in order to open the gates to the European market through Lithuania and Poland can offer the power under its net cost. And most likely this will happen, as the projects are very expensive. The project of the Ostrovets NPP – 10 billion USD, BNPP – more expensive as there they also need to construct lines. But the construction of these plants is already in process, money has been already invested in them, and sooner or later, an issue shall arise to sell this power. And then “Rosatom” shall make the step to dumping.

 About this a famous Russian ecologist, a professor of the Russian Highest School of Economy Vladimir Slivyak spoke during the lecture arranged by the liberty university LUNI in Vilnius on April 23rd, devoted to the policy of Russia within power market of Europe.

 V. Slivyak states, that the construction of the Baltic NPP in Kaliningrad region has not relation to the issue of assurance of this region with power, as at the moment there is no lack of it. The BNPP project is connected with a “comprehensive strategy of power expansion of “Rosatom” to the European electric power market”. To this he added that simultaneously with the BNPP project the project of the Ostrovets NPP construction occurred, which proves the existence of such strategy.

 “Now it becomes clear, that approximately since 2007-2008 “Rosatom” has been accomplishing its plan of construction of several NPPs along the EU borders in order to gain access to power supplies of these NPPs into the countries of Europe”, — he said during the lecture.

 In Belarus they already have a line, which goes to Lithuania, and in Kaliningrad region there are no lines sufficient to connect with Lithuania or Poland, which from technical point of view could be used to supply energy. However,  the ecologists assured, that there is a “pretty expensive plan to construct these lines”. But Lithuania and Poland represent an obstacle in this issue.

 “At first “Rosatom” was not really concerned about the way to get the access to European networks. They counted on that Poland and Lithuania would agree. Later it became known that Lithuania and Poland did not really want to let the power from the BNPP into the European network. Eventually “Rosatom” started search for European companies, that would like to conclude contracts for power import, simultaneously they were searching for the companies, that would invest into this project”, — said Russian ecologist.

 The Baltic NPP for Russia is an individual precedent, as for the first time in the history of the country the NPP is being constructed not for domestic needs, but for electric power export, considers V. Slivyak. He also specified that , for the first time it is decided that the NPP shall be a joint-stock company (earlier the plants belonged only to the state).

 “On the one hand it is a big business plan, as behind the projects of the BNPP and ONPP there is a policy of growing of power export to Europe, — suggests V. Slivyak. – Also it is evident, that if “Rosatom” concludes contract with any of the EU states to supply power with the used of the lines of Belarus to Poland, or yet non-constructed lines from Kaliningrad region – this shall be s signal of a large-scale expansion after which along the EU perimeter new reactors shall be constructed and the power export shall grow”.

 After “Rosatom” realized the line of Lithuania and Poland, which do not want to purchase power from the future BNPP, the Russian company except for direct talks started to search for partners in Europe, for example, the companies in Germany or France, that would “pressure the governments of Lithuania and Poland’.

 “From the comments of experts I know, that there were talks with all biggest energy companies of Germany, large-scale talks with French companies. At the moment the strategy of forcing in relation to Lithuania and Poland is about  that to find a European company, to find funds in private banks of Europe, to come to Lithuania or Poland and say that the big countries have already decided everything for you and there is no sense to resist (to purchase power and BNPP construction)”, — stated the ecologist.

 V. Slivyak reminds that “Rosatom” applied French and German banks and at the moment the company stakes at France. By this according to him, ecologists, particularly “Ecozashchita” manages to persuade some banks not to finance nuclear projects of the Russian company.

 “For example, the French bank “BNP Paribas” in due time as strongly pro-nuclear, wished to finance the “Rosatom’s” project in Bulgaria. Now we have an official reply that they will not participate in the BNPP project. Another French bank “Credit Agricole” also officially replied that it will not participate. Now we are waiting for the reply of several German banks. The main obstacle in this direction of or activity is the bank “Societe Generale” which is strongly interested in friendship with Russian Government. Moscow kindly asked this bank to grant funds from the French company Alston to supply turbines for the BNPP”, — he said.

 According to him, “Rosatom” does not need Alston turbines (iIt has always used other technologies, they also don’t need money from Europe (in fact it has unlimited credit from Russian budget): “The evident reason of the interest to these banks is the desire to get the confirmation that Europe has accepted the BNPP project”.

 From the viewpoint of V. Slivyak, the things happening now — the attempt of “Rosatom” via France to get the confirmation that Europe is interested in electric power produced at the BNPP and to create in Lithuania and Poland an image that the big countries have already decided everything and that the smaller countries should not resist.

 Vladimir Slivyak has been in the issues of ecology for already 23 years, in the subject of the Baltic NPP since 2007 when Kaliningrad region presented the idea to construct the BNPP, which was announced by then governor Georgij Boos.

 According to him, the citizens of the region have always been against the NPP construction. But in 2007 a strategy of Kaliningrad region occurred which included the NPP construction. In a year a treaty between the government of the region and “Rosatom: company was signed. In autumn of 2009 the BNPP was introduced into all plans and in 2010 the activities in the construction site started.

 But eventually, he concluded, that the plans of “Rosatom” on construction of the BNPP, as well as the Ostrovets project of Belarus, on large-scale supplies of energy to Europe, do not correspond the national interests of these countries. Energy turn is happening in Germany, but not only in Germany. The same is happening in France, the President Hollande came with the Presidential program the part of which is reduction of dependence from nuclear power. Other countries already work under the renewable sources of energy. “However, the governments of old Europe to dot seriously counteract the projects of “Rosatom”. This is self-confidence as the plan on construction of multiple NPPs along the EU borders accomplishes, “Rosatom” it order to open the gates to the European market through Lithuania and Poland can offer the power under its net cost. And most likely, this is what shall happen, as the projects are very expensive. The project of the Ostrovets NPP – 10 billion USD, BNPP is more expensive as the construction of lines is anticipated. But the construction of these plants is already on process, the funds are already invested in them and I am sure that there shall be an issue to sell this power, “Rosatom” shall make  a step to dumping”, — notes V. Slivyak.

By Thomas Jarvi

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