20 Oct 2010 15:35

Russian-Armenian JV to seek companies build nuclear plant generating block

YEREVAN. Oct 20 (Interfax) - The Russian-Armenian joint venture for building a new generating block at Armenia's atomic power station - CJSC Metsamorenergatom - is looking to attract companies from the United States and France into the project, Armenia's Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisyan told the press.

Preliminary agreements have already been struck with U.S. and French companies, Sarkisyan said.

"Orders are already being placed, and we are giving this great attention because the construction of the atomic energy station's new block using new technology and with the involvement of Russian, French, and American colleagues speaks to the face that this will be an atomic power block that meets the best modern standards. From this standpoint, the Russian Federation is one of the leading world powers and will be one of the main project participants," the prime minister said.

Metsamorenergatom has begun negotiating with foreign investors, seeking to raise funds for the actual construction. Russia's part in the joint venture is that of supplier of reactor and infrastructure, while Armenia provides premises and utilities.

The project price tag is tentatively put at roughly $4-$5 billion. Armenia's, Russia's, and investor stakes are being discussed and will be announced at a later day.

Last December, the Armenia government approved Metsamorenergatom's creation on a 50/50 basis with Russia's Atomstroyexport (a structure of the state nuclear power corporation Rosatom) for building the new generating block.

A Russian-built reactor will be installed at the 1060 mWt block. Construction is slated to start in 2012 and wrap up in 2017. Until that time, the sole existing generating block at the Armenian nuclear plant (404 mWt), which provides around 40% of all the electrical power produced in the country, will be shut down.