The Situation with Investors for Baltic Region NPP Remains Unclear

The Situation with Investors for Baltic Region NPP Remains Unclear

By Daniil Rozanov

Recently the situation over  the projects of construction of nuclear power plants in Baltic region – Kaliningrad region of Russia, Belarus and Lithuania hasn’t become more clear. Only Lithuania can boast with some successes of its project regarding investments, which in the beginning of April initialed the wording of treaty with Japanese concern Hitachi.

Now they hold talks with Latvian and Estonian energy companies which as reported may control each 20% of shares of VNPP. Yet it is not clear, which share shall belong to Hitachi, and whether Poland shall get back to the project. According to unofficial information the project’s participants can’t get required 100% of shares.

As the Prime Minister of Lithuania Andrius Kubilius has recently stated, also private companies shall be involved into the construction. He promised to present a business-plan in the near future.

And Lithuanian Energy Minister Arvydas Sekmokas reported that the conclusions of the Ministry of Finance on the new NPP are positive, although by this Lithuanian Minister of Finance noted that these conclusions related only to the first, preparatory step of the accomplishment of the project on construction of the NPP in Visaginas.

As for the views of politicians, then as one of the Leaders of Parliamentary opposition in Lithuanian Sejm noted, social-democrat Algirdas Butkevičius during his talk with the Prime Minister it “appeared that till 2015 only preparatory work shall be held. Only afterwards the shareholders – Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Hitachi shall decide whether it’s profitable for Lithuania to build an NPP”.

Also in Lithuania, in comparison with neighboring Kaliningrad region of Russia and Belarus, they discuss the idea of holding a Referendum on VNPP construction. Parliamentarian Committee of Lithuanian Sejm has considered the issue of its holding and approved of this initiative.

Talking about Belarusian and Russian projects in Ostrovets and Kaliningrad region there is yet no clear understanding regarding the investors for the construction of these plants.

Belarus as well as Russia states that at the moment it is the stage of preparatory works. “Rosatom” regularly takes foreign reporters to Baltic NPP site in order to show them the course of construction. However yet last summer they couldn’t name certain campaigns in the administration of the project, considered as potential investors, hinting only that some companies were involved.

Also the representatives of Kaliningrad authorities talk about uncertainty regarding the investments. A deputy of legislative assembly of Kaliningral regional Duma Solomon Ginsburg calls the process of Baltic NPP construction quite non- transparent. To his mind it is unreal to build the plant by 2016, at best it shall happen in 2018. Let’s remind that the governor of Kaliningrad Nikolay Tsukanov also declared that Baltic NPP shall be commissioned in 2017 and not in 2016, as it was planned earlier.  It was reported that Baltic NPP shall gain investments of 5 billion Euro. However it’s not clear who the investor is.

Yet in Mass Media messages have appeared with the reference to the authorities of Kaliningrad region on the plans of Hungarian investors, who are ready to start erecting of power substations in Kaliningrad already in 2012. As for investors than the deputy S. Ginsburg underlined that “also now no one shall say anything definite”.

“That is why I think that there will be lingering, delay in construction.  Unfortunately the total  process is quite non-transparently”, - he concluded.

Also Bulgarian reporter, dealing with nuclear issue Pavel Antonov,  talked about non-transparency of nuclear projects at one of Lithuanian web-portals.

As for Belarusian project, than Belarusians claim about decisiveness of the plans, although the certainty about investments is even smaller than in Russia. Many analysts call the project of Ostrovets NPP Russian one, and moreover doubtful, meaning that most likely the plant shall not be constructed. However the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) shall provide Belarus with urgent aid during all the stages of Ostrovets NPP construction, as has been recently stated by the IAEA General Director Yukiya Amano in Minsk.

Commissioning of the first unit is expected in 2016, of the second one in 2018. As observed, the terms of Ostrovets NPP commissioning are the same as of Baltic one. And in Grodno region of Belarus they already make roads and railways to the construction site.
It’s also worth to note that in comparison with Baltic NPP Belarus doesn’t plan to attract private investors, the plant shall be of complete state property. Instead of attraction of foreign investments, Belarus decided to take credit from Russia. The Head of “Rosatom” Sergey Kirienko yet in January estimated the project of 6-7 billion USD, meanwhile Minsk plans to get about 9 billion for 25 years with delay of payments till completion of the NPP construction.  At the moment in Ostrovets they lead preparatory works the same as at the Baltic NPP site – development of infrastructure.

Lithuania constantly reminds of non-transparency of nuclear projects of Russian and Belarus. The Head of Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Audronius Ažubalis noted, “regarding neighbor states we still face the absence of responsibility and observance of international treaties (regarding the projects of the NPP construction)”. Lithuania blames Belarus and Russia  that Lithuania still hasn’t received answers on its questions. Russia and Belarus in reply only shrug shoulders and hit back that all the answers have been given. We should remind that in the end of March the Espoo Convention Implementation Committee during its regular session considered the complaint of Lithuania towards Belarus on violation of the convention in the process of Belarusian NPP construction. That is why despite optimistic forecast of official Belarusian delegation during March session of the Espoo Convention Implementation Committee, the ban of Ostrovets NPP construction by the states of this Convention is quite possible. The countries of Espoo Convention may force Belarus to suspend the construction of Ostrovets power plant with some mechanism.

As for Russian project, than in course of the bilateral meeting of Lithuanian-Russian working group in Kaliningrad Lithuania has outlined its concern about the plans on BNPP construction in the summary protocol of the meeting.

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