Southeast Asia Focuses On Russia’s Growing Nuclear Market

Southeast Asia Focuses On Russia’s Growing Nuclear Market

By launching the first floating nuclear plant in May 2018, Russia has taken a step ahead of other countries interested in mobile nuclear power plants. With this new type of transportable nuclear reactors, Russia aims to attract countries eager to develop their nuclear energy. In just two weeks, several countries in Southeast Asia have already expressed interest in this technology. Russia is ready to make a big financial effort to meet their expectations,. Even though the negotiations have not yet officially begun, Rosatom, has already announced that it is willing to lease future units of its plant to countries that request it. The Manila government has already signed a nuclear development agreement with the Russian government at the end of 2017. Gerardo Erguiza, Deputy Secretary of State for Energy, did not hide his penchant for this solution: “We need a reliable and inexpensive source of energy, nuclear is ideal. ”

Although Southeast Asia does not have any nuclear power plants in operation, various countries have already tried in the past decades to invest in this energy. The Philippines is the country that has gone the furthest in developing a civilian nuclear industry. In 1976, the Philippine government gave the green light for the construction of a 620 MW nuclear power plant. This decision was largely motivated by the energy supply problems faced by the country following the oil crisis. And although the works ended in 1986, the Bataan nuclear power plant was never commissioned. With a budget of $ 2.3 billion, well above the estimated budget, the project resulted in too much public debt for the Filipino state, which had to abandon the project. In early 2018, the Philippine government asked Russian nuclear experts to conduct an audit of the plant which was originally built by Westinghouse. According to the audit findings, and despite the age of the plant (1976), it could potentially be commissioned and finally produce energy as early as 2020.

The case of the Bataan power station is a good illustration of the problem: in the absence of financial means and expertise in this field, the countries of South-East Asia have not yet had the opportunity to develop nuclear energy. Yet several countries such as Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia currently have large energy needs that they struggle to cover with fossil energy. In total, a dozen countries in this region could be interested in the Russian floating nuclear power plant. According to Rosatom, the Philippines and Indonesia are seriously considering deploying floating power stations off their coasts.

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Arnaud Lefevre

Arnaud Lefevre is the Chief Executive Officer of Dynatom International. Arnaud is in charge of the international development of the business portfolio.