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Russia sets up nuclear energy corporation
10/05/07
MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti commentator Tatyana Sinitsina) –

The establishment of the state-owned holding Atomenergoprom under a recent presidential decree is a result of a large-scale reform of the nuclear sector, which began in 2006. It is the core asset that will carry out challenging plans aimed to raise the Russian nuclear sector to new highs.
The Federal Agency for Nuclear Power (Rosatom), which proposed the idea and drafted the reform plan, admitted that it would not be implemented without government assistance. Therefore, the first step was to get the parliament’s and the president’s approval for the 2006 federal target program of developing the nuclear power sector.
The new joint-stock company, Atomenergoprom, which is to run the country's nuclear power industry, will be entirely controlled by the state. Its charter is being drafted, and a list of assets to be incorporated into it is being compiled. Vladimir Travin, deputy head of Rosatom, said the government should make a decision on the procedure of forming Atomenergoprom in May or June, and the holding itself is to be set up by 2008.
It will take over all civilian nuclear programs and integrate all civilian nuclear assets. It will take over state shares in about 30 companies, the largest of them being TVEL, Techsnabexport (Tenex) and Atomenergomash, at the fist stage, and 55 companies, at the second. The vertical structure of the holding will unite all segments of the nuclear cycle, from uranium ore mining and enrichment to the production and enrichment of nuclear fuel, and the designing and construction of nuclear power plants.
This is not an original idea, as there are such giant consortiums as Areva-Siemens, General Electric-Hitachi, Westinghouse-Toshiba, which are highly competitive, reliable and stable. Atomenergoprom will become their direct rival, and possibly a partner. Experts believe the Russian holding has a major advantage in that it will consolidate the full technological cycle, from the production of raw materials to electricity generation.
Other inbuilt advantages are lower intra-cooperative costs, a common management system, and a possibility to maneuver prices.
Viktor Opekunov, head of the nuclear power subcommittee at the State Duma Committee on Energy, Transport and Communications, said: “The establishment of the corporation marked a new stage in the development of Russia’s nuclear power industry. [It is] an effective means to revive the industry, consolidate many enterprises under single command that is sufficiently strict to ensure the fulfillment of challenging tasks facing the sector.”
Atomenergoprom will facilitate the building of 26 power units within the next 12 years; accelerate the construction of nuclear power plants outside Russia, the production and processing of uranium ore, exploration and development of new deposits; and promote related research and design, as well as modernization and construction of nuclear power engineering enterprises.
In the past 15 years, when Russia was fighting the consequences of the collapse of the old socio-political regime and the government was encouraging new liberal values and market reforms, many sectors lost their personnel.
“The problems facing the industry now should not be viewed as a reason for depression. Instead, they should become an impetus to mobilization of forces,” Opekunov said.
It is encouraging that the government is investing considerable funds to attain these goals. According to the official, it will appropriate 1.5 trillion rubles ($58.29 billion) until 2015, which is enough to attract and train requisite personnel.
They will be trained at three major schools – in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Obninsk (near Moscow). The sector cooperates with prominent schools, such as Moscow Physical Engineering Institute, the Urals Polytechnic, and Tomsk State University.
“This is a challenging task, and I assume that not everything will go without a hitch. But the development vector is directed upwards,” Opekunov said.
Will all of this change the functions of Rosatom? The industry will not be divided, although it comprises two major parts: nuclear weapons and nuclear energy generation. The former is a state monopoly addressing federal goals, while the latter (Atomenergoprom) is a commercial company working on the global market of nuclear technologies. Rosatom will become the link between the defense and the civilian parts of the nuclear industry.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti. -0-