Originally posted in The Financial Express on 01 March 2022
Implementation of the US$13.48-billion Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant (RNPP) project might face wrath of the Western sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine war, as most of the funding of this mega project is being sourced by Russia.
The 24,000-megawatt (MW) RNPP is already facing delay due to sluggish progress in installing river-crossing electricity transmission lines from the plant to evacuate its generated electricity, said sources.
The western nations’ decision to impose a harsh set of sanctions to punish Russia, including blocking some banks from the SWIFT international payments system as well as restrictions on the Russian central bank’s international reserves, might slow down necessary money transactions for the project, they feared.
SWIFT is the global financial artery that allows smooth and rapid transfer of money across borders. Created in 1973 and based in Belgium, SWIFT links 11,000 banks and institutions in more than 200 countries.
Local contractors – assigned by Russian contractors to implement works on piecemeal basis – might bear the brunt, they added.
The Russian contractors – who are involved in implementing the project – might not face the music, as they might get fund directly from Russia.
The Rooppur plant is being built under a supplier’s credit deal with Russia. Atomstroyexport, Russian state nuclear company Rosatom’s international project subsidiary, is the lead contractor of the project.
The Russian Bank for Development and Foreign Economic Affairs and Bangladesh’s state-owned Sonali Bank Ltd are the authorised banks for the state loan.
Bangladesh government will provide Tk 220.52 billion fund for the project. India will also provide around $1.0 billion as loan to facilitate construction of necessary plant infrastructure.
The government eyes to commission 1,200-MW Rooppur unit-one by 2023, and 1,200-MW Rooppur unit-two by 2024. It has planned to load first nuclear fuel to unit-one in February 2023, and six months later to unit-two – to initiate operations of the plant.
All physical and mechanical equipment of the RNPP are set to be installed by June 2022.
Bangladesh is currently receiving various process equipment for construction and further operation of the RNPP, including reactor pressure vessel and steam generator, after building a dedicated freight water terminal.
To ensure timely implementation of the RNPP, the country continued its construction work even during the pandemic-induced lockdowns.
First concrete was poured for Rooppur-1 in November 30, 2017, while that for Rooppur-2 in July 14, 2018.
The Rooppur plant is based on the Russia-Bangladesh intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in nuclear plant construction, signed on November 2, 2011.