Contradicting reports on nuclear effect of Turkey-Russia tension
DHA photoOngoing tension between Ankara and Moscow may have spread into area of Turkey’s multibillion dollar nuclear plant project in Akkuyu, with some media reports suggesting that the planned plant will be canceled.
Reuters quoted Turkish energy officials as saying on Dec. 9 that Russia’s Rosatom stopped work at the site in Akkuyu in southern Turkey, as relations between Moscow and Ankara continue to deteriorate after the Nov. 24 downing of a Russian jet by Turkey.
Turkey’s semi-official Anadolu Agency quoted Russian Ria Novosti as saying that Akkuyu NGS, the company founded to develop the plant, was continuing its activities. Turkish Energy Ministry sources and Akkuyu NGS officials also said they had not received any information about a halt to work, while efforts to build a port in Akkuyu for the plant are continuing as planned.
State-owned Rosatom has not terminated the contract for the building of the $20 billion project and is reluctant to do so because of the heavy compensation clauses, energy officials said, according to Reuters, which also cited Turkish officials as saying that Ankara is already assessing potential alternative candidates for the project.
The possible cancellation of the project is unlikely to have any impact on Turkey’s immediate energy supplies, as the planned nuclear power plant was not seen coming online before 2022 and had already run into delays due to regulatory hurdles and Russia’s financial woes.
Keen to wean itself off an almost complete dependence on imported energy, Turkey in 2013 commissioned Rosatom to build four-1,200 megawatt (MW) reactors.
There are clauses in the Akkuyu contract outlining large sums of compensation in the event of a unilateral termination. “That’s why the Russians are not making any move on this for now,” Reuters quoted one Turkish official as saying.
Earlier in the day, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş insisted that Turkey was not dependent on Russia to build its first nuclear power plant.
“We need to clearly say that just as we are not dependent on one door for trade, Turkey is not a prisoner of one country’s technology regarding its nuclear plants,” Kurtulmuş told Anadolu Agency.
“We know that there are many countries, many companies that are ready to respond to Turkey’s demands,” he added.
Moscow and Ankara have been at loggerheads since Turkey shot down a Russian warplane along the Turkey-Syria border on Nov. 24, saying it violated its air space, the most serious incident between Russia and a NATO member state in half a century.
Moscow responded with a raft of economic sanctions, including the cancellation of visa-free travel. It accused Turkey’s leadership of being complicit in illegal oil trade with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Russia also announced last week that it has suspended preparatory work on the Turkish Stream gas pipeline project.
Back in 2013, Ankara selected a Japanese-French consortium to build a second nuclear power plant in addition to the Akkuyu plant. The second nuclear plant project is expected to cost an estimated $22 billion.