Kazatomprom ready to buy into Russian Enrichment Plant

    Kazatomprom, Kazakhstan’s national nuclear corporation, is prepared to buy a stake in a uranium enrichment plant owned by Russia’s Rosatom corporation and expects to sign the relevant agreement during the third quarter of 2010, Kazatomprom chief Vladimir Shkolnik told reporters.
    “We’re prepared (to buy a stake) and I hope we’ll sign an agreement soon, in the third quarter at the latest,” Shkolnik said.
    “Probably for cash,” he said, when asked about the nature of the deal.
    Russia and Kazakhstan originally planned to form a bilateral joint venture to build new enrichment capacity at the Angarsk plant in Russia’s Irkutsk Oblast.
    It registered the company CJSC Uranium Enrichment Center for this purpose but, given the abundance of uranium enrichment capacity in the world today, and the length of time (around seven years) it would take to build the new capacity, it was decided to reformat the agreements, and Rosatom offered Kazakhstan a stake in an existing plant.
    Kazatomprom expects not just to own shares in one of the plants, but also hopes to supply uranium enrichment services to the world market. The relevant marketing agreement has already been drafted in the framework of cooperation with Rosatom. “I hope it will provide for the sale of this material (low-enriched uranium) in the markets agreed on by the parties,” Shkolnik said. Sharing those markets would avoid mutual competition, he said.
    “We for our part made our offer in the first quarter,” Vladislav Korogodin, a Rosatom department deputy chief, told Interfax. Two options for involvement are under discussion.
    One is to contribute the Uranium Enrichment Center, and the other is for Kazatomprom itself to become a shareholder. “Rosatom is prepared to yield between a blocking stake and 49%. We’re looking at one of two enrichment plants: Urals Electrochemicals Combine and Electrochemicals Plant Production Association,” the Rosatom official said.
    Korogodin did not say which of the two Kazatomprom might get a stake in. He said the idea still needed some thought, including fr om the legislative point of view, as most of Russia’s enrichment plants, except Angarsk, are in closed cities.
    Kazatomprom’s Shkolnik also said Russia and Kazakhstan continued to work, under the auspices of a joint venture, on the construction of a nuclear power plant in Kazakhstan. He said a feasibility study for the project had been submitted to the Kazakh state authorities for approval, and that “the approvals process is almost complete.” The next stage will be to reach a government-to-government agreement, but Shkolnik did not say when that might happen.
    Shkolnik said the project was not about building a full nuclear plant but a pilot plant in Kazakhstan that would be used as a prototype for other projects that Russia and Kazakhstan might export on a joint basis.
    Kazakhstan plans to build a medium-sized NPP, the sort that are needed in countries wh ere limited grid capacity means large plants cannot be built. Shkolnik said around 20% of global demand for new nuclear power capacity was for medium plants. The plan is to build Kazakhstan’s plant in the city of Aktau, he said, according to KazWorld.info.