VILNIUS - The Lithuanian government is considering ordering the reactor for the new Visaginas nuclear power plant (VNPP) from the Canadian government following a visit from the country's Minister for International Trade.
Minister Stockwell Day arrived in Vilnius on May 4 to speak with the Prime Minister to support the offer from the state-owned Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL) in its bid to supply its CANDU nuclear reactors to Lithuania for VNPP. Day said the reactors will likely be completed in 2016.
"The CANDU reactors are able to be supplied at a variety of ranges, [from the] 700 megawatt range up to 1600. With the flexibility they have, they are able to meet a variety of demands and that's why they have been successful in a number of different countries around the world," Day said.
The final completion date for the plant remains at 2018, according to the Ministry of Energy.
Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius said through his aide that the meeting was fruitful and his government would consider the proposal carefully.
"All proposals will be carefully considered and he said that there are positives and minuses, but all proposals will be considered," the prime minister's spokesperson, Ridas Jasiulionis, told TBT.
No specifics have been discussed yet.
"There were only general things discussed about the roadmap for the Visaginas power plant. The road map means that at the beginning of next year the tender for the strategic partner will be performed and someone will be chosen."
Day said that Canada had a serious stake in the industry and would be a reliable partner for the project.
"Canada, in terms of the uranium itself, has the largest reserves in the world and the highest of grades [from] the process that's used by AECL, which is one of our main industry providers. The Canadian industry, nuclear industry in Canada, [comprises] about 150 different companies; over 30,000 people are engaged in it."
He would not speculate on the price of the new electricity, but pledged that it would be cheaper than the competitors.
"I can tell you that the unit weight/price, depending on how you compare it, is in the view of our industry significantly lower than what other competitors would have."
"The final price of the overall project will be determined by those who are looking at it and by the final estimation of how many people are participating. But the weight per unit costs, the case that AECL makes, is very competitive and very favorable [compared] to other bids," Day said.
Ala Alizadeh, the vice-president of AECL, who accompanied the minister on the trip, told Reuters the company was offering Lithuania its 700-megawatt enhanced CANDU 6 reactor, which can be built in 54 months 's four and a half years.
Alizadeh said the reactor's size was the most suitable for VNPP given the country's power grid and its plans to link with the European and Nordic electricity systems.
France's Areva and Westinghouse, owned by Japan's Toshiba Corp, are seen as the two main competitors for the tender, which Lithuania will announce early next year.
Lithuania's government plans to build VNPP by 2018 's in cooperation with neighbors Latvia, Estonia and Poland 's to reduce energy dependence on Russia.
VNPP will replace Ignalina nuclear power plant, which is due to be shut down at the end of 2009 in accordance with the country's 2004 European Union accession agreement.
Current trade between Lithuania and Canada is substantial, but Day thinks it could become larger if a free trade agreement is struck with the European Union.
"There's already two-way trade of approximately $400 million Canadian between Lithuania and Canada. A broader free trade agreement with Europe would increase opportunities for both Canadians and Lithuanians," he said.
Meanwhile, Leo LT, the country's energy company has set a target of reducing the price of electricity by four centas per kilowatt-hour by July 1.
"Taking into account the country's economical situation and having strictly expressed position of the shareholders, from the second half of this year we take the responsibility to reduce the price of electricity to the consumers, restoring it to the level of the year 2008. We will use all possible recourses to strive for it," Leo LT Chairman of the Board Rimantas Vaitkus said.