Possible foreign investment may implement stalled Baltic NPP project, says Polish press

Publish date: August 9, 2009

Written by: Pawel Sliwinski

WARSAW, Poland – Russia wishes to co-operate with Germany, Lithuania and Poland to build a nuclear power plant in the western Russia enclaves of Kaliningrad, and talks are also underway with Czech and Spanish partners, the Polish daily “Gazeta Wyborcza’” reported.

If the reports are accurate , and the investors willing, the construction on of the  Baltic Nuclear Power Plant, which has been languishing with Russia authorities on something of a rudderless course because of funding shortfalls, may become a reality. The Baltic NPP has been the subject of an almost carnival-like  stumping campaign from Russian nuclear authorities, but

The nuclear power station with an installed electrical capacity of 2300 MW is to be built in Neman, close to borders with Lithuania and Poland, and will cost €5 billion. The first block will become operational in 2015, that is, at least five years earlier than the first Polish nuclear power plant , which is planned by the government in Warsaw.

The investment plan has been revealed by a Lithuanian newspaper “Litovskij Kurier” interviewing Sergei Boyarkin, vice-president of Energoatom – Russian state-owned company – who is responsible for building the new plant.  The plan also came to light over the past several weeks on Bellona Web, were the unpopularity of the prospective plant among Kaliningrad’s population has been covered. 

“We wish that companies from the countries to which the electricity will be exported, i.e. Poland, Lithuania and Germany, took part in the project” Boyarkin said.

The Russian offer is interesting to Poland and Lithuania, but also dangerous, “Gazeta Wyborcza” comments. On the one hand it would help these countries reduce their electricity deficits, but on the other – it may lead to increasing their energy dependence on Russia.

Up to 49 per cent of shares in the company operating the plant is to be sold to international partners. One third of the produced electricity would be used in Kaliningrad, and the rest would be exported.

“If Poles and Lithuanians decline the offer, all the exported energy will go to Germany,” said Sergei Novikov, spokesman for Russia’s state nuclear corporation Rosatom, which owns Energoatom. How? Through Poland or – if the Polish oppose – by an underwater cable in the Baltic Sea, possibly along the Nord Stream gas pipeline. This seems unrealistic to a Polish official cited by “Gazeta Wyborcza.”

Will Poland be interested in the Russian offer?

“We don’t say no. However, we should link the project in the Kaliningrad Oblast with other key issues in the energy policy field such as resuming the negotiations on gas. We have to play on multiple chessboards, as the Russians do,” a representative of the Polish government who requested anonymity  admitted.

He added that the project seems to be built in order to block the planned nuclear power station in Visaginas, Lithuania, which is meant to replace the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant closing down in 2010.

Energoatom will choose the partners for the Baltic NPP project in October . So far it has been confirmed that talks are being held with CEZ (Czech Republic) and Iberdrola (Spain). In mid-August representatives of energy companies from Russia, Germany, Lithuania and Poland will meet in Svyetlogorsk near Kaliningrad to discuss the Russian offer.

Meanwhile, another Polish daily “Rzeczpospolita” reports that Russian nuclear power equipment exporter Atomstroieksport has put in a tender to build new blocks in nuclear power stations in Hungary (independently) and in the Czech Republic (in Temelin, with a Czech partner).




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