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.
With respect to the last line in your blog ” And AECL is back to looking for some other potential buyer of its enhanced CANDU 6 as a way to generate revenue”, i guess AECL can consider India as a potential buyer of the CANDU reactors. India has just signed the Civilian Nuclear Treaty with the US and the agreement was passed by the United States Senate after getting the go ahead from the NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group)a couple of weeks ago. All that is left now is for both parties to sign on the agreement. India is looking for massive investment in it’s power sector and nuclear energy fits right in the middle of things. Analysts predict that the total investment in the nuclear energy sector could be worth $100 Billion or more in just a few years. AECL should make sure that they are in the reckoning as countries around the world have already started sending feelers. Last week the Indian Prime Minister was in France and the two sides signed a couple of bilateral agreements and France is in the forefront to sell reactors to India. The rapidly growing Indian economy unlike Turkey is stable and there are no issues regarding the credit worthiness . In my view,AECL should be more pro-active and at least start looking towards India as a prospective market.