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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Rumors about Belarusian nuclear plant

Recently this issue was mentioned in sources of Russian origin - Belarus will build a nuclear plant! It's not any more on stage of a rumor, it is oficially confirmed by president Lukashenko and prime minister Sergey Sidorsky who said that

Belarus will hold a tender next year for a project to build its first nuclear power plant, at which Russian and Western partners are expected to bid
(full text of RIA Novosti article can be found here). Seems as Russia starts to get worried that such a "piece of cake" as Belarusian nuclear power plant will be cinstructed by a Western company in responce to the cool-down of Russia-Belarus relation. Belarus is even compared to second Iran, as a dictatorship regime willing to obtain a nuclear plant as an instrument of showing power on the international arena.
In fact Belarusian project although worth as planned up to 2.8 billion USD, to be first launched in 2017, and will cover as calculated around 15% of Belarus energy needs, total capacity 2 MWatt. On the other hand, Belarusian government is looking up a little West-North to Visaginas in Lithuania, where a new modern nuclear power plant is to be built in place of the existing Ignalina plant (to be closed). This object with capacity 3200-3400 MWatt to be launched in 2015, 4 EU countries are already participating in the project (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland). The plant will be located close to Belarusian border, and no doubt Belarus might get interested in joining it - high voltage connection with Lithuania already existing, so why not offer cheap energy transit and get involved? Again showing Russia that there are other energy options.
In case this plan with new Ignalina works out, Belarus might actually need no nuclear plant of its own, requiring so much investment and efforts, and at the same time creating local tension among the population (still suffering from Chernobyl syndrome).
Turn East or West - where? As usual Belarus is standing between the two forces and on the path of choise.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well, in general it looks like Belarus is trying to make use of both East and West and still trying to remain independent - thats a complex game. I don't think that Belarus will be joining new Ignalina project - one needs certain financial assets to invest in it, one cannot be just a consumer in such a case, and Belarus does not have those assets just now.
Building own power plant - thats another matter.

Chernobyl_hedgehog said...

Well, it's just an option which was articulated more in terms of showing Russians that we can "make friends" with the West as well, and maybe we do not really need that plant you wish to construct on our territory". As for Lukashenko speeches, one always has to read between the lines - myself I don't see it realistic either.