Russian-built Nuclear Power Plant in Hungary Faces Delay

Hungary’s minister without portfolio in charge of the Paks nuclear power plant project, Janos Suli, said on Wednesday that the plant’s two new blocks could be up and running around 2030, Hungary Today reports.

The minister said the cabinet is to submit the modified financing contract to lawmakers soon as it seeks an extension of the date for repayment of a $11 billion loan from Russia.

Hungary selected Russia’s state nuclear company Rosatom without a tender to build two 1,200Mw reactors at Paks for $13.75 billion. The intergovernmental agreement was signed in January 2014 by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

The construction should have started in 2017, but MVM Paks, the company in charge of the operation, has not yet received the final license for construction. The government blamed a protracted European Commission probe for the delay, but when that was completed Rosatom still had trouble meeting tight EU rules for security standards.

The government had not provided an official target date for the launch of the new blocks in the past 12 months. 

After comments by Suli in the parliament’s economic committee, it looks certain that the new blocks would not be operational before 2030. Nuclear experts consider that 2032 is a more likely date.

The delay is unfavorable for Hungary as the financial agreement with Russia set 2026 for starting the repayment of the $11 billion loan.

Russia has accepted Hungary’s request to amend the agreement. Under the new contract, Hungary would start repaying principal and interest when the two new blocks start operating, rather than from 2026 as stipulated in the present contract.

No other conditions would be amended in the contract, Suli stressed.