National Development Minister Mrs. Laszlo Nemeth, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Rosatom CEO Sergei Kirijenko.
Hungary’s most expensive project ever is to be financed by Russia and built by the Russian state atomic energy corporation (Rosatom). According to index.hu the HUF 3 billion no-bid contract to build two nuclear reactors has been awarded in the absence of a clear mandate from parliament and without preliminary studies having been released to the public and without any public discussion of the matter having taken place.
Yesterday the four parties pictured above signed a 20 year cooperation agreement providing for the Russian state atomic energy corporation to build two 1200 megawatt reactors at Hungary’s only nuclear power plant in Paks as well as supply it with fuel and to dispose of spent fuel rods.
The ten year project is projected to cost EUR 10-12 billion (HUF 3 trillion). The Russian state will finance 80 per cent of the project by lending up to EUR 10 billion (USD 13.3 billion) for 30 years. The remaining 20 per cent of the investment is to be provided by Hungary during the final phase of construction.
According to Russian president Vladimir Putin the two new reactors will double Hungary’s nuclear capacity and contribute to Hungary’s energy independence.
In a press conference held in Budapest, State Secretary Janos Lazar called it “the deal of the decade” that will supply the Hungarian economy with the cheap electricity it needs in order for Hungarian industry to be competitive. He said the EC energy commission had “preliminarily approved” the deal despite there being no public tender.
According to Lazar, 40 per cent of the work will be performed with Hungarian subcontractors and that the reactors scheduled to come on line in 2023 will account for 1 per cent GDP growth annually and create 10,000 new work places. According to Lazar a steady supply of cheap electricity will enable Hungarian industry to compete with German industry. Otherwise, when the last of the four existing 500 megawatt reactors are decommissioned in 2037 the price of electricity may increase 20-30 per cent, according to the state secretary who is also a Fidesz member of parliament.
When asked whether the agreement created a national security risk, Lazar said that a nuclear energy cooperation agreement between the two countries has existed since 1966 and that “the Hungarian government has no reason to abandon the cooperation.” Lazar also said that if Hungary has to import more energy, most of it would have to come from Russia anyway.
Lazar said the government would show the contract to parliament, and that Orban had not tied the contract to other matters (such as the natural gas contract that comes up for renewal in 2015).
For additional information about the deal and its antecedents, see the English translation of the Index.hu “Seven subways could be built from that money” at the Budapest Sentinel (budapestsentinel.com).
On Sunday, January 12, Bernadett Szel, co-chairperson of the liberal opposition party Politics Can Be Different (LMP) and chairman of the parliamentary committee on sustainable development issued the following statement:
Viktor Orban should only travel to Moscow to negotiate the expansion of Paks once the social and technical debate has taken place in Hungary. However, there is no sign of this. The government and the people behind it are deciding about the next hundred years.
LMP thinks it awkward . . . the Orban government is following the same path towards expanding Paks agreed on with the Socialists in reference to which the start of the project is now taking place.
LMP finds it disturbing that the Orban government is disregarding Hungary’s independence by entrusting the supply of energy to Russia.
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