Russians ‘closer’ to winning Temelín tender, Czech intelligence agency says

Source says secret BIS report sees Russian consortium as most likely to win Czech nuclear plant expansion tender; the French are ‘out’

Tom Jones 28.10.2011
Přístavba dalších dvou bloků jaderné elektrárny v Temelíně s sebou přináší řadu problémů, na něž se bude muset vláda důkladně připravit. | na serveru Lidovky.cz | aktuální zprávy Přístavba dalších dvou bloků jaderné elektrárny v Temelíně s sebou přináší řadu problémů, na něž se bude muset vláda důkladně připravit. | foto: © ČEZČeská pozice
Přístavba dalších dvou bloků jaderné elektrárny v Temelíně s sebou přináší řadu problémů, na něž se bude muset vláda důkladně připravit.

According to a classified annual report by the Czech counterespionage and intelligence agency BIS, a Russian consortium has better chances than US firm Westinghouse of winning the bid to build new reactors at the Temelín nuclear power plant, an anonymous source who claims to have sen the BIS report told Czech news server aktualne.cz. Of the three expected bidders, the French firm Areva is reportedly “out of the game.”

“[The Russians] are offering know-how and are planning on maximum participation of our [Czech] firms. However, security concerns play against [the Russians winning the contract,” the source told aktualne.cz.

The government’s commissioner for the Temelín expansion, Václav Bartuška, confirmed the tender documentation will be delivered to the three consortiums which have said that they will participate in the tender. Offers are to be submitted next summer and the winner selected in 2013. The contract is expected to be worth somewhere in the region of Kč 500 billion.

“The Russians have taken the initiative. Therefore, the Americans have invited Nečas and plan to do the same as them,” aktualne.cz’s source said referring to Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas’ (Civic Democrats, ODS) visit to the US at the end of this month.

“If American politics are effective in one [particular] area, it’s the tradition of effectively supporting American industry [abroad],” aktualne.cz cited expert with advisory firm ENA, Jiří Gavor, who nevertheless says the Russian offer promises to be “objectively the best.”

“Cooperation between the Czech and Russian nuclear energy sectors has the firmest foundations. The reactors that operate here are Russian, but have a high level of Czech know-how and Czech elements. They were complimented with modern components of western origin, mostly control systems, but the fundaments are Russian-Czech technology,” Gavor said.

The Russian consortium named MIR. 1200 comprises the Russian nuclear engineering firm Atomstroyexport, Russian reactor manufacturer Gidropress, and the Russian-owned Czech nuclear engineering firm Škoda JS. ‘From the point of view of Czech industry, the Russian offer will have the best starting credentials.’

“Škoda JS may not be in Czech hands, but it’s a subject that pays taxes here, and it would be one of the major contractors. So no surprise here: from the point of view of Czech industry, the Russian offer will have the best starting credentials,” Gavor said.

Vying for position

In order to improve their chance, Areva and Westinghouse will have to pledge a solid transfer of know-how and/or commitment to include Czech companies in major projects in third countries, Gavor adds.    

However, Aktualne.cz’s source who cited the classified BIS report says Areva of France is practically out of the running: “They’re out of the game. What’s more, the French are probably not all that interested because they have plenty of orders elsewhere,” the source said.

Nevertheless, Václav Bartuška, who in the past has stated in unequivocal terms that he would not like to see the Russians win the contract, claims that to date Škoda JS has gained practically nothing from Russian ownership. “Škoda JS was acquired by a Russian concern in 2004, and since then it hasn’t received a single contract in Russia. It only receives orders from the French.”