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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Pro-Nuclear PR

Recently Belarusian informational agencies such as BELTA, BelaPAN, Interfax and others are frequently publishing news pieces and interviews that are focused on the future project of Belarusian nuclear power plant building.
Here is a digest I picked out of several day's reading of national news portal tut.by (for those of you who read Russian here are the links to the articles:

Ministry of Energetics: Electicity costs for Belarus to go down 25-30% after nuclear power plant launch
Message from press conference of Vladimir Bobrov, head of investment and development department of Ministry of Energetics
September 13, 2007
He stated that “…nuclear power plant can make Belarus’ energetics more balanced”. After launch of a nuclear power plant with 2 thousand megawatt productive capacity it will take over more then 14% of total volume of electricity produced in the country and will be able to influence the initial costs of electricity production cost in Belarus. “As preliminary estimated (sounds like figure "from the air" - Alexandra Prokopenko), the costs may go down 25-30%” – Vladimir Bobrov said. He explained that the calculations were made on the basis of information received from the experience of similar nuclear power plant construction projects in Russia and other countries.
The specialist stated that involvement of nuclear power into energetic balance of Belarus is one of the important issues of energy security of Belarus (the aim of the initial PR campaign - Alexandra Prokopenko).


No doubt, today Belarus stands in a difficult position when it comes to energy independency. But does the nuclear power plant building mean that Belarus may become less dependent from such large players as Russia? It's almost obvious that the construction of the plant will be done by Russian specialists (Atomstroyexport), and paid from national budget of Belarus that has a significant debt to Russia already (recent gas price rised this year were not planned into the budget initially). Nuclear power plant also needs well trained specialists, technical service, fuel and also storage or removal of spent fuel which adds on a lot of additional costs. Will the benefit of launching the plant cover these costs and is it possible that it will make Belarus even more dependent on Russia?
Myself I see nothing wrong in interdependency of countries while diplomacy and geopolitical interests sometimes turn useful connections into chains that the master holds the dog with.
The article above is a classical example of PR positioning stage of the campaign. Means the officials started acting, decision is already made, but how to make the public to accept it?
Another article:

Business plan of nuclear power plant construction in Belarus will be ready by 2008-beginning 2009. 13 september, 2007 BELTA
The same official, same press conference, same date, same agency but brought out into a different piece of news. Message this time is that the nuclear power plant’s project is being prepared “on basis of the similar projects in Russia, France, USA and other countries”.

Interesting fact that initially there were 3 main potential “constructors” for nuclear power plant in Belarus – Russia, France (AREVA group) and USA. American constructors were excluded from the beginning for political reasons, as for the French AREVA there were several rounds of talks that ended in nothing. As for Russia, it's more a matter of principle to take the project in its hands. Which is far not the worst variant for Belarus - but again if you consider the political concequences...

Next article, only the headline and lead is enough to recognise the trace of the same bear:

Zabolotets: Reliable energy supply of Belarusian economics can be reached only by own nuclear power plant 12 september 2007 BelaPAN
BelaPAN interviews vice-speaker of Chamber of Representatives S. Zabolotets.

Here is an official of a higher level, and his statements touch upon the legal basis of energetics in Belarus. For instance, law "About non-traditional and renewable energy sources" was already in the parlament but did not pass and was sent for improvement, while "About nuclear power usage" being actively developed.
He also mentiones that Belarus' 85% dependent on energy supply from abroad, and presents nuclear power plant construction as the only means of survival in conditions of world monopoly on oil and gas redistribution, hoping Belarus will finally overcome the "Chernobyl sindrome" and turn its face to nuclear power.

Here I would argue using the example of Sweden which has 3 active nuclear power plants and 2 closed ones, and plans to close all nuclear power objects by 2010 for ecological and many other reasons. One will say Sweden has hydropower from northern rivers - right! Sweden also uses wind power, thermal power, electricity and heat from trash and wood waiste burning... Belarus could as well develop those technologies thinking about future, considering that trash and wood is much cheaper for Belarus then nuclear fuel. From many points - both economical and political.

1 comment:

Andy Sea said...

This kind of articles started to appear actually long ago but were not so often, now there are many discussions going on with this issue on the agenda in Belarus, and it for sure appear in official media.
As for Sweden, good example of solving the situation with energy and ecology balance.
Good luck with your observations!