Russia’s federal atomic energy agency, Rosatom, reportedly said Tuesday that it had reached a landmark deal to supply enriched uranium fuel rods to nuclear power plants in the U.S.
Three separate agreements were signed between state-owned Russian company Tekhsnabexport (TENEX), a Rosatom unit, and U.S. group Fuelco in Moscow, The Moscow Times reported today. The $1 billion agreement, which spans from 2014 to 2020, paves the way for Rosatom to supply enriched uranium to Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), AmerenUE, and Luminant under Fuelco, the intermediary set up by the three U.S. companies.
Rosatom Director Sergei Kiriyenko said the agreement could be "the start of a new era of cooperation" between the nuclear sectors of the two countries. The agreements follow five years of negotiations between Washington and Moscow. In February last year, the governments signed a deal allowing Russian uranium exports to the U.S. civil nuclear sector.
The Moscow Times said that Russia already provides fuel for half the power plants in the U.S. under the “megatons to megawatts” program, which seeks to convert uranium from dismantled Russian nuclear weapons into low-enriched fuel as part of a 1993 nonproliferation agreement. That program expires in 2013.
Earlier this month Russia struck a similar deal with Japan to exchange technology for nuclear fuel. Tuesday’s deal represents the first time Russia will directly provide U.S. companies with nuclear fuel from Russian-enriched uranium.
Kiriyenko reportedly said that Russia’s uranium reserves are deep, well over 1 million tons—enough to power both existing and planned nuclear reactors for the next 60 years. The Moscow Times also reported that Rosatom would postpone Russia’s program to build two reactors per year because Russia had experienced a drop in power demand.
Reuters quoted Bruce Hamilton, the president of Fuelco, as saying that Tuesday’s agreements open the door for Russia to directly take 20% of the U.S. uranium market between 2014 and 2020. "The Russians do it all. They mine it, they convert it and they enrich it," Hamilton told Reuters. "And after 2020, it’s just wide open (for Russia)."
Sources: The Moscow Times, Reuters