Russian nuclear firm opens SA office

28 March 2013

Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation, Rosatom, has joined a growing list of global companies that are considering South Africa as a base to expand their operations on the African continent.

Rosatom last year opened a marketing office in Johannesburg, only its third such office after Ukraine and Singapore, and sent a high-level delegation to Durban to take part in the 5th BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit this week.

Rosatom deputy director-general Kirill Komarov gave a presentation on “Nuclear as a factor of social and economical development” during the BRICS Business Forum on Tuesday.

South Africa’s Integrated Resources Plan (IRP) for 2010 to 2030, a 20-year projection on the country’s electricity supply and demand, envisages 9 600 MW of additional nuclear capacity by 2030. The plan is due to be reviewed soon.

Speaking at the Africa Energy Indaba in Johannesburg last month, Energy Minister Dipuo Peters said South Africa planned to expand its use of nuclear power in a safe and secure way as a key part of the country’s move towards a diversified, low-carbon energy mix.

“If we are serious about diversification towards a low carbon economy, we cannot belittle the role that natural gas and nuclear power can play in the realisation of that 2030 low carbon energy vision,” Peters said.

Rosatom is ranked fourth in the world for nuclear electricity generation, accounting for 17% of the world nuclear fuel market. It conducts 45% of the world’s uranium enrichment services, and is ranked the second in the world for uranium reserves and fourth for uranium production.

Rosatom said on Monday that it believed South Africa and its neighbours on the continent could benefit from the company’s expertise to increase their reliance on nuclear power.

The company noted that International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director-general Yukiya Amano, during a visit to South Africa in February, “made the point that other African economies such as Nigeria, Kenya and Egypt were also considering using nuclear technology as a means to diversify energy sources”.

Alexander Kirillov, the head of Rosatom’s marketing office in South Africa, said the company offered a comprehensive package that ensured localisation should South Africa decide to build a new nuclear power plant.

“Localisation will at the initial stage of the project be at 30% of production, which will eventually peak at 65%”, Kirillov said, adding that 15 000 direct jobs and between 9 000 and 19 000 indirect jobs would be created during the construction of such a plant.

SAinfo reporter