Vice President and managing Director of the largest nuclear companies in the world Westinghouse Aziz Dag in interview of the UNIAN was told about the opportunities of growth in the supply of nuclear fuel to Ukraine, about the company’s plans at the expiration of the existing contract with Ukraine, and also commented on the global trend of development of “green” energy and the role of nuclear energy in the near future.
— Westinghouse — American electrical and nuclear company. In Ukraine the Corporation has about 17 years and is today the only alternative to Russia supplier of nuclear fuel for Ukrainian nuclear power plants. At the same time, in late March of this Westinghouse filed a voluntary petition for bankruptcy in accordance with the requirements of US law, however, the company is wilted that this procedure will not affect fuel supplies to Ukraine.
Now Westinghouse is in the process of bankruptcy. Will this affect the number of projects in Ukraine?
— Submission by Westinghouse voluntary petition for bankruptcy in accordance with the requirements of US legislation had no impact on operations in Ukraine. In Ukraine there are “Westinghouse Electric Sweden”, and that the company is not in bankruptcy, she continues to perform all of its obligations.
— At what stage is the bankruptcy process? The bankruptcy process in the United States is very well structured and is probably one of the best in the world. Its main purpose is to help the company survive the situation and to keep their values.
— Submission by Westinghouse petition for bankruptcy were not related to its core business, it relates to two specific projects for the construction of units AP-1000. This week, the media reported that Toshiba and Westinghouse have agreed on one of them. In the second, the negotiations are still going on, but as soon as they are completed, it will be a huge step towards the end of the bankruptcy proceedings.
Another important step in the procedure is to develop a new business plan for the reorganized company, the process will be completed before the end of July. Hopefully, the exit procedure will be short and smooth. I’m sure that company will come out of the situation stronger than they were.
As for the business of manufacturing nuclear fuel, it has never been in question, he was always stable and no relation to the filing of a petition for bankruptcy has.
— Westinghouse operates in many countries, including in Eastern Europe. Is it any different from work in Ukraine? What are the difficulties you face in our country?
All countries are different, all its own unique challenges. In Ukraine the company has been working for many years. We believe that Ukraine is a good country to work. The technical level of the engineers is very high in Ukraine. Here talented people work and Westinghouse with them leads technical dialogue at a high level.
As for difficulties, it is, first and foremost, a bureaucracy, a lot of paperwork. Unfortunately, sometimes the bureaucracy is a distraction from the real business. Second language, need time to adapt.
— What, in your opinion, interferes with other large companies to enter the Ukrainian market?
I can’t comment on other companies, this is to ask them. As for Westinghouse, we almost immediately decided that Ukraine is a key market. Here are 15 units of nuclear power plants — a high figure for Europe and on a global level.
Ukraine is one of the most nuclear States in the world, and it is a significant macrofactors for our company. We are glad that we took the decision to enter the Ukrainian market and are ready to invest in the development of the nuclear sector.
— President Petro Poroshenko said that Ukraine needs in 2017 to increase the share of Westinghouse fuel in the total import of nuclear fuel to 55%. The problem is real?
— Today, Westinghouse is supplying 40% of the total import of Ukraine of nuclear fuel, that is, provides 6 reactors of 15. The company has invested in its factory in Sweden to be able to provide 100% of the market of Ukraine.
And today, Westinghouse has the capabilities and capacity for the production of a sufficient amount of fuel to all 15 reactors in Ukraine.
In addition, the Westinghouse fuel have proved to be excellent in working on the Ukrainian reactors, so we are glad that Mr. Poroshenko had made such a statement. We are ready to provide 55% of imports, that is, to supply 8 nuclear reactors the fuel, can supply more if the decision will be made.
— What are the company’s plans for work in our country after 2020 — at the end of the term of the contract with Ukraine?
Now Westinghouse is in active negotiations with “Energoatom”, which will be completed by the end of the year. The company plans to sign additional long-term contract. Let’s see what are the results of the negotiations and which will continue to move the company. But an aspirational goal for 2020 — at least 55% of imports of nuclear fuel to Ukraine.
— Please tell us more about the negotiations…
— One of the negotiation that is now underway, is the involvement of local Ukrainian companies to supply components for the production of nuclear fuel. This is one of the elements that will play an important role in the signing and the terms of the contract after 2020.
— What projects in Ukraine, your company is participating and in which would like to participate?
— There are four main activities. The first program, which is our company most known supplies of nuclear fuel. The second program is improving the safety of nuclear reactors. It is funded by the European Bank for reconstruction and development. Its total budget is 1,3 billion euros.
The results of this project, the Ukrainian reactors will be improved and modernized. Within its framework are open tenders. Some our company wins and some loses, which is quite normal in a competitive market.
The third program — increase the capacity of the reactors and their effectiveness. Last year our company signed a small contract under which we will study the behavior of reactors with the increased capacity and efficiency.
A pilot reactor of this program is the third power unit it is southern-the Ukrainian nuclear power plant. In this direction we cooperate with “Turboatom”.
And the fourth important program — the project of power bridge (Power bridge “Ukraine — European Union” — UNIAN). This is a unique opportunity for Ukraine to escort electricity and thus fully cover its own needs in it.
After having implemented the third project to increase the capacity and efficiency of the reactors, Ukraine will have additional electricity which it can export on completion of the power bridge.
All of these programs requires a significant investment by Westinghouse, as well as cooperation with local companies, as a result of our presence in Ukraine will increase, including the staff, and this new jobs.
— Tell us more about the project to increase the capacity of the units. What are the terms of this program, what amount of investment?
It is too early to talk about the timing or volume of investments. It is now important to complete the project evaluation of fuel — as it will behave in terms of improved reactor.
This is an important and necessary step that must be implemented, and then talk about the program in General. Although we usually do not disclose the exact amount of investment, but I can say — it’s pretty significant.
It is worth noting that we are investing in Ukraine not only through the above-mentioned projects, but also through the company “Westron”, which is located in Kharkov. Thus, Westinghouse has against Ukraine’s long-term plans, it intends to continue to work here, to invest.
Westinghouse is actively cooperating with local companies, but always comes to the market under its own brand, we do not work through intermediaries. This is an important factor, which demonstrates the commitment of Westinghouse to the Ukrainian market.
— How do you assess the possibility of construction in Ukraine of a plant for the production of nuclear fuel. Do you intend for Westinghouse to participate in this project?
— This issue is being discussed in Ukraine for many years, and our company participated in these discussions. Before you begin construction of the factory, you must develop a business case to assess the need for and availability of fuel. Today I don’t. But if there are strategic reasons why the plant should be built, then Westinghouse would be pleased to further discuss this topic.
I want to emphasize that in any case the first step towards the construction of the plant — the use of local components for the production of fuel. Westinghouse has been involved in this project and is working on obtaining permission for use of components from local suppliers for its fuel in Ukraine.
I emphasize again — if there are strategic reasons for the construction of the plant, the Westinghouse company would be happy to discuss more opportunities.
Last may, a philosophical question. Now the world has seen the rapid development of renewable energy. How do you see the role of nuclear energy in the near future? You need to do today to Ukraine not to fall out of the world trend?
— Indeed, a very philosophical question. We believe that nuclear energy should be developed in conjunction with renewable energy. Westinghouse supports all forms of clean energy — energy that does not contribute additional carbon dioxide emissions. That is, such energy sources as gas and coal needs to go.
Renewable energy is becoming more popular, but also nuclear energy in the future will be a significant role. If you watch the Paris agreement (Paris agreement under the UN framework Convention on climate change, signed in 2015, — the UNIAN), it becomes clear that the full extent of his cannot be performed using only renewable energy. Should be nuclear energy, and a number of partner countries Westinghouse share this opinion. For example, China, which is investing huge amounts in renewable energy and nuclear energy. Probably, Ukraine also should go this way.