Turkish media are lambasting the government for botching yet another attempt to introduce nuclear power to the electricity-starved country. Turkey, with much fanfare, announced a reactor competition back in January. But of the six consortia that were originally interested in this latest go-round, only one—led by Russia’s Atomstroyexport—turned in an actual bid by the September 24 deadline . The five others, one of which included Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, submitted only letters saying thanks but no thanks.
At bottom, this probably has to do with a combination of the international credit market crisis and lingering doubts about the Turkish government’s promises not to interfere with major infrastructure projects involving foreign companies. The five non-Russian consortia apparently asked Turkey to postpone the competition until the credit crisis eases. No dice.
The Russians aren’t worried about either the credit crisis or government meddling. They can finance Atomstroyexport with oil and gas revenue, and if the Turkish government interferes with the project… well, Russia has its Black Sea fleet. Russia’s neighbors, especially Turkey, have known for centuries that the Big Bear has never been shy with its diplomacy. For this reason, many Turks are not thrilled that only Russians showed up at the dance.
Now the Turkish government is in the uncomfortable position of having to answer questions about exactly this issue. No doubt the Russian offer of a reactor will be accompanied by an offer of fuel supply. What will guarantee that if and when Russia becomes unhappy with some aspect of Turkish policy it won’t tie that issue to fuel supply—like it did with natural gas supplies to Ukraine at the end of 2005?
Well, that’s Turkey’s problem. And AECL is back to looking for some other potential buyer of its enhanced CANDU 6 as a way to generate revenue.