5th March 2008 (E15) Czech companies now have a chance to join one of the greatest projects for development of nuclear energy in the world.
Till 2020, Russia has intention to put into operation 26 new blocks of nuclear power stations in the country, and at least further 12 blocks according to the Russian pattern should be erected in other countries. “Companies like Škoda JS or Arako firm from Opava may be at the source and receive important contracts,” said Kiril Komarov, Deputy Director of the state-owned holding Atomenergoprom for E15 daily newspaper. The most important Russian companies from the secotr of nuclear energy have joined to form one holding.
Relations, as regards the nuclear cooperation, between both countries show strengthening also in the opposite direction: the Russian holding intends to participate in possible construction of further nuclear power stations in the Czech Republic. It already supplies or will be supplying the current power stations with fuel. The group comprises also Tvel company that expelled the fuel from Westinghouse firm.
Moreover, Russians are acquiring a number of firms, which could compete to obtain the contract. Komarov affirms that still this year, one of the firms from holding will acquire hundred percent share in Arako that specialises in production of armatures for traditional as well as nuclear power stations. Already last year, the Russians bought 51 percent share in the firm for approximately of CZK 200 millions.
The Czechs export nuclear technologies to Russia
“We strive for further development of Arako, we are interested in technological experience of this firm, its good production capabilities as well as skilled employees,” said Komarov. According to his opinion, Arako may be a successful contractor for Russian nuclear power stations.
The Russian nuclear program should become an opportunity also for the engineering firm Škoda JS. Also this one is already controlled by Russian owners – not those of Atomenergoprom, but from the OMZ company, which is a part of a broader group around Gazprom, the gas giant. Nevertheless Komarov emphasises, it is just Škoda JS, next to the Russian Izhorsk Works that is one of the most promising contractors of equipment for nuclear power stations. Škoda JS still plans, according to Komarov, not extremely costly investment into its own production program, which enables it to start once again the production of corpuses for nuclear reactors.
Many in the Czech Republic consider the development of nuclear energetics to be an alternative to enormous dependence on the Russian gas. Activities of Russian firms nevertheless indicate that the development of nuclear power stations cannot be done without cooperation with Russia. František Masopust, Executive Director of the Chamber for commercial relations with CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) considers such fear to be exaggerated. “Moreover, it is much easier to buy the nuclear fuel in some other place than for example hundreds of thousands of cubic meters of gas,” said Masopust.
In any case, Masopust regards cooperation in nuclear energy to be interesting. Nevertheless, he could see opportunities more in subdeliveries of Czech firms than in the direct entry into big projects.