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Cernavodă / US And Romania To Sign $8bn Agreements For New Reactors

By David Dalton
9 October 2020

Move follows cancellation earlier this year of deal with China
US And Romania To Sign $8bn Agreements For New Reactors
The Cernavodă nuclear power station, where Romania is planning to build two new reactors.
Romania was scheduled to sign cooperation and financing agreements with the US on Friday for the refurbishment of one nuclear power reactor and the construction of two more at the Cernavodă nuclear power station, US ambassador Adrian Zuckerman said on Thursday.

In a statement posted on the US Embassy in Romania’s website, Mr Zuckerman said Romania’s energy minister Virgil-Daniel Popescu would meet with US energy secretary Dan Brouillette in Washington to initial an intergovernmental cooperation agreement for the refurbishment of one nuclear reactor and the building of two new reactors at Cernavodă. “This $8bn project will be a paradigm for future Romanian- American economic and energy development projects,” he said.

Later in the day, Mr Popescu was to meet with the president and chairwoman of the US Exim Bank, Kimberley Reed, to execute a memorandum of understanding for the financing of the Cernavodă nuclear project and other projects in Romania. The financing package is the largest financing package ever received by Romania and is indicative of the confidence the US has in its longstanding partner and ally, Mr Zuckerman said.

Romanian state-owned nuclear power producer Nuclearelectrica ended talks with China General Nuclear (CGN) about the Cernavodă project in June after they had dragged on for six years.

Neither Nuclearelectrica nor the government has said why Romania cancelled the deal with CGN. Press reports in Romania said CGN had been criticised by Romania’s “strategic partners” over security issues tied to the use of Chinese technology. Reports also said there had been cost concerns related to the Cernavodă project.

According to press reports, cooperation between Nuclearelectrica and CGN became uncertain after Romania’s president Klaus Iohannis and US president Donald Trump signed a joint declaration in Washington last year that called for closer cooperation between US and Romania in nuclear energy.

In July, during a visit to the Cernavodă station, prime minister Ludovic Orban said Romania was close to signing an agreement with undisclosed “Euro-Atlantic partners” to complete the two units.

Romania will invest €8-9bn to build the two new plants, which should be ready by 2030, Mr Orban said. “As soon as possible, after we establish a team at government level to explore the best options, we will negotiate and sign agreements to start these fundamental investments for Romania,” local press reports quoted Mr Orban as saying.

Cernavodă has two commercially operational Candu 6 pressurised heavy water reactors supplied by Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd and built under the supervision of a Canadian-Italian consortium of AECL and Ansaldo.

Unit 1 began commercial operation in 1996. Unit 2 was subsequently completed and began commercial operation in 2007. Efforts to resume work on Cernavodă-3 and -4 began in 2003.

The Cernavodă-3 and -4 project consists of completing and commissioning two Candu 6 type units with a minimum installed capacity of 720 MW each. According to Nuclearelectrica existing structures for the two units include the reactor building, the turbine-generator building and hydrotechnical circuit structures. These are in various stages of completion and will be used for any future construction.

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