Rosatom Strengthens Positions on US Nuclear Market
From Voice of Russia
The new agreement is the 14th for Tekhsnabexport. It envisages direct supplies of low enriched uranium to the US nuclear facilities. Although the company’s subsidiaries have been active on the US market for several years already, until recently Russia’s share was very small. Now the situation is changing fundamentally, Sergey Novikov, an official with Rosatom told the “Voice of Russia”.
“There were serious restrictions for Tekhsnabexport because of the anti-dumping investigation. After 2008 it became possible to sign such contracts. After the investigation was halted Russia’s quota for nuclear supplies in the US is 20% of the market needs. This is a very good share considering the US has the largest park of NPP – more than 100 energy units.”
Industry experts stress that the expiration of the HEU-LEU contract in 2013 is even more significant factor for the strengthening of Rosatom positions in the US. This contract was signed in 1993 and aimed to convert 500 metric tons of high-enriched uranium (HEU), the equivalent of approximately 20,000 nuclear warheads, from dismantled Russian nuclear weapons into low-enriched uranium (LEU), which is then converted into nuclear fuel for use in US commercial reactors. Under this contract Russia sold uranium to the US at the price which was lower than on the market.
The experts note that this technology of anti-enrichment of uranium is unique. As of today no other country except Russia has such a technology. The HEU-LEU contract played an important role when the policy of real disarmament was conducted but morally it is outdated.
While the HEU-LEU contract was effective it brought Russia about $12 billion. In difficult 1990-s, this income was an important article in the budget of the national nuclear industry.
Today the situation is different, Rosatom officials stress. About 40% of the US NPPs operated on Russian uranium because the US did not have enough uranium enrichment facilities. But the fuel was not exported under a non-commercial agreement and prices were lower than on the market prices. The new agreement envisages uranium supplies at a market price, though not everyone in the US wants to accept new rules of the game, Sertgey Novikov says.
The anti- dumping investigation regarding Russian companies will be completed by 2025. That means that there will be no restrictions for Russian fuel suppliers. Naturally, the US authorities want providers of these services to develop first of all on their territory. Until recently the US did not have a centrifuge technology for uranium enrichment. US energy companies had to fully import fuel. The recent years saw the establishment of several joint ventures on the territory of the US and uranium enrichment facilities started operating using European technology.
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