Ukraine goes to nuclear superpowers

Written by The Frontier Post

Valery Mikhailov

Recently, the Ukrainian media trumpeted the news to the whole world that the Ukrainian state-owned company Energoatom and the American company Westinghouse agreed to jointly complete the construction of the third and fourth power units of the Khmelnitsky NPP using AP1000 technology. The agreements were reached following the memorandum signed by the two companies during Vladimir Zelensky’s visit to the United States.
In Ukraine, they are al-ready announcing Napole-onic plans to increase nu-clear capacity by 2040 to 24 gigawatts (today they amo-unt to 13.8 gigawatts) thr-ough the construction of 14 new power units. However, upon closer examination, everything turns out to be not quite the way it is broadcast from Kiev.
In fact, as follows from open sources, the parties signed agreements on the purchase by the Ukrainian side, first of all, of Westinghouse’s services for the design of power units, and secondly, of a simulator, as well as the payment of an advance payment for some equipment with a long production time. Moreover, both for the services and for the simulator, the Ukrainian side will definitely pay tens of millions of dollars out of their own pockets. However, the simulator, on which Ukrainian operators must learn to work with a power unit based on the AR1000 reactor, is purchased even before the conclusion of an agreement on its construction! But what is there – before the start of the procedure for its licensing in Ukraine! This fact alone suggests that we are talking about a scam. But he’s not the only one.
As for the aforementioned Napoleonic plans and even two new power units of the Khmelnitsky NPP, they are reflected only in the next memorandum signed by the parties.
By the way, no one is going to complete the construction of power units (No. 3 and No. 4), which began to be built under the USSR in 1985 and 1986 for the VVER-1000 reactor and which are 75 and 28 percent ready. Judging by the presentation of Energoatom, we are talking about the construction of blocks No. 4 and No. 5. Block No. 3, according to the Kiev mriy, should be completed by the Czech company Skoda-JS, owned by Gazprombank. But as a result of persecution from Washington and the official Prague following in its wake, it is going through hard times, put up for sale by the owner and is clearly not able to cope with the completion, even if the client had money.
But let us return to blocks 4 and 5 based on AP1000. The construction of the first of them is possible only from scratch – that is, it should begin with the dismantling of existing structures. With the second one it is even more fun: the site in Netishin was originally set up for four blocks. And the NPP power unit is not a doghouse. You can’t stick it anywhere. The idea of building the fifth “box” requires a re-justification of the site, and this in itself is not a joke and not cheap.
Anyway, the main question in this story remains: at whose expense is the banquet? In principle, Energoa-tom has no money to complete or build even one power unit. Westinghouse, which filed for bankruptcy in 2017 and only “celebrated” the sentences of its former top managers in October, did the same. Interim head of Energoatom Kotin announces financing through US Eximbank. And about the alleged preliminary agreement of the total amount of financing of the two power units at the level of ten billion dollars. But he himself says that “there is still a long procedure to make a final decision in order to receive this money.” At the same time, the first reactor is planned to be built by 2025.
But the trick is that W-estinghouse has not been able to complete a single power unit over the past 40 years! An attempt to build four blocks in China ended with a multiple increase in price, numerous scandals and… completion by the Chinese themselves. The attempt to build two units in the United States at the Vogtle nuclear power plant was supposed to end in 2016, but continues to this day. Moreover, the cost has grown from the initial $ 13 billion to $ 27 – and this, it seems, is not the limit. W-hich, by the way, weakly c-orrelates with the Kiev calculations both for construction in three years and in co-st (five billion apiece). And again, it suggests a scam.
There was another attempt to build two units in the USA at the VC Summer NPP. But it ended quite incredibly: the curtailment of work in 2017 with the simultaneous announcement of the bankruptcy of the company. It is for this fact that the former executives of Westinghouse are now getting the terms. But the equipment – the very same, with a long production time – the company pr-oduced for these two units. And it has been tanning under the South Carolina sun for years. At the same time, Westinghouse has obligations to implement it within five years (two years have already passed) to compensate for part of the losses of the former customer of the construction of two power units at the VC Summer NPP by Scana. The need to urgently shove someone illiquid, an advance for the manufacture of long-produced products – these are two more facts that indicate a scam.
By the way, the fact that the equipment from the VC Summer NPP will be supplied to Ukraine is not hidden in Kiev either. Kotin was even photographed ag-ainst the background of a r-usty AP1000 reactor vessel, after which he was made brand new – in Photoshop.
In general, it looks like the Americans, by lightly corrupting the temporary head of Energoatom, are trying to cheat the natives according to the traditional scheme. US Eximbank can indeed provide some kind of loan for the supply of old equipment to Westingho-use. At the same time, mo-ney will not go to Ukraine – only the equipment itself can drop in there. Westinghouse will pay Scana with this money. In the meantime, Energoatom will deal with the necessary procedures: preparation of a feasibility study for the AP1000 reactor technology, carrying out all state examinations, licensing and many others, including cross-border consultations. And then the preparation and transfer of the bill on the placement of AP1000 in the Verkhovna Rada.
This would take three to four years even with a normally functioning state apparatus. Which is not even close in Ukraine. All this time Energoatom will pay interest on the loan and its body. Perhaps, then it will come to construction, which can begin no earlier than 2026-2028, and end only deep in the 30s. And how much it will cost in the end – only God knows. But it is clear that all this will drive Energoatom into such a hellish debt pit that the value of the company itself will tend to zero. And it is even clear who will be the main contender for such an asset. The essence of the scheme: it was yours – it is ours. But even if Energoatom somehow jumps from this scam at the current stage, it will remain with the project and simulator “very necessary” for it, and Westinghouse with several tens of millions of dollars. For him, this is a win-win lottery.

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