Russia and Japan form nuclear alliance|
MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti commentator
Tatyana Sinitsyna) - Paris is in shock: nuclear giants Atomenergoprom and
Toshiba have decided to form an alliance in civilian nuclear power operations,
including power plant construction and fuel production.
The two companies signed a framework agreement last week, under which the
Russian company will enrich uranium produced in Kazakhstan, while Toshiba will
produce nuclear fuel and undertake the designing and engineering of nuclear
The firms may establish a strategic partnership in the future, Toshiba said.
By securing a stable supply of nuclear fuel through the alliance with
Atomenergoprom, Toshiba hopes to sharpen its competitive edge.
Experts predict that the alliance will become the world's leader in the
Previously, the market was divided between four players: the French-German
alliance of Areva and Siemens, two American-Japanese groups,
Toshiba-Westinghouse and GE-Hitachi, and Russia's Atomenergoprom.
The Russian-Japanese alliance will cut the number of players to three.
Moreover, Toshiba now owns a 70% stake in Westinghouse.
The French newspaper Les Echos described the alliance as "the main event in
the nuclear production cycle." As a nuclear power and leading player on the
global market of nuclear power engineering, France is worried that the
Russian-Japanese tie-up could become a major rival of the French Areva.
The newspaper reports that the French government intends to merge Areva and
Alstom into a nuclear power plant building super-company.
The Russian-Japanese merger was prompted by Russia's desire to swim with the
tide, although Toshiba was neither its initial nor only choice. Russia made
offers of strategic partnership to several candidates, but Toshiba offered the
Sergei Novikov, a spokesman for Rosatom, the Federal Agency for Nuclear
Power, said: "The Japanese have the engineering know-how to build nuclear power
plants within three years. They are the recognized leaders in this respect; it
takes us five years to build a nuclear power plant. So, we will learn from them
if the alliance is formed. We may also cooperate in mutual supplies of
large-size equipment. [The alliance] will also allow Russia to emerge on the
global market for nuclear fuel."
Atomenergorpom has the technologies of an open nuclear fuel cycle and can
build civilian nuclear facilities under turnkey conditions. It also has
cutting-edge water-water reactor (VVR) technologies.
Although it has signed only a framework agreement with Toshiba, experts
believe that the document is the first step to forming a full-scale
transnational alliance. It will be set up as an absolute parity, without the
partners exchanging stakes or assets, but agreeing to jointly plan their
business. The alliance will work toward a global goal of developing and applying
safe, clean and efficient nuclear generation systems.
"The framework agreement is a sign made to the market; subsequent moves will
be based on the assumption that business is a highly practical matter, with
adequate decisions depending on each particular project," said Novikov.
"If we decide to build a nuclear power plant in Russia's Far East, as
stipulated in the general plan for placing nuclear power plants, it would be
logical to invite the Japanese," he said.
Experts also say that Russia may join forces with Toshiba to manufacture
equipment for nuclear power plants.
Taken together, this promises dynamic, effective and mutually beneficial
Sergei Kiriyenko, head of the Rosatom corporation, said: "An alliance of two
giant companies would have a positive effect on the nuclear renaissance, making
it more predictable and technically feasible."
He said that all consumers of commodities and services of the nuclear fuel
cycle would enjoy the fruits of Russian-Japanese partnership.
Harufumi Mochizuki, head of Japan's Agency for Natural Resources and Energy,
is of the same opinion.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not
necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.
Original article: RIA Novosti
Fair Use Notice