Russia Wins Big Fight with France and Japan to Bring Nuclear Power to Vietnam

The consortium of leading industrial Japanese corporations (Toshiba, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Hitachi) lost the fight to Russia’s Rosatom to build the first nuclear power plant in Vietnam. When complete, it will be the first nuclear power plant in the whole South-East Asia.

Japan’s Nikkei newspaper wrote that Vietnam’s EVN energy company informed the nation’s government that Russia’s state-run nuclear corporation Rosatom would work on the project to build the nuclear electric power plant. A number of Russian sources and foreign news agencies confirmed the fact.

For the time being, it goes about the construction of two power generating units with the capacity of one million kilowatts each. One unit costs $2.7 billion. Vietnam plans to build two nuclear stations with four reactors in each of them. The project is evaluated at $10.8 billion.

The subject about the construction of the nuclear power plant in Vietnam with the help of Soviet specialists appeared during the 1980s. There were two construction areas found in the central part of the country. The project was forgotten after the collapse of the USSR.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Vietnam in June of 2009 and signed a memorandum of cooperation between Rosatom and the nation’s ministry for science and technologies. It was later said that Rosatom decided to participate in the tender for the construction of the nuclear power plant in Vietnam.

Russia had very strong competitors: China, France and Japan. France is the second most powerful nuclear nation in the world, whereas Japan is one of Vietnam’s most important commercial partners. Nevertheless, Russia won the multi-billion tender.

It is worthy of note that Toshiba and its partners enjoyed the support of Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama. He personally asked his Vietnamese counterpart in November of 2009 to take Tokyo’s interests into consideration.

France and Vietnam signed the pact on cooperation in the field of nuclear energy in 2009. Many specialists believed that the document would help France win the tender, but it never happened.

Vasily Bazlov, a Russian expert, who spent many years living and working in Vietnam, told Pravda.Ru that Moscow and Hanoi had a very long history of relationship, which probably played a positive role for Russia in winning the tender.

“Vietnam remembers Moscow’s role in the struggle against France, then against the USA and China. In addition, Russian products have the price and quality advantage. Finally, Russia and Vietnam develop defense and technical cooperation very actively. Russia is Vietnam’s major arms supplier too,” the expert said.

Why does Vietnam need a nuclear power plant? The energy industry of the nation depends on the work of hydroelectric power stations. Frequent holdups of raining periods lower the water level in rivers and water reservoirs, which seriously affects the output of electric power.

The economy of Vietnam has been growing very fast during the recent years. The nation needs to have a 15-percent growth in the production of electric power every year. Nuclear power will meet the demand perfectly.

Russia is set to begin the construction of the nuclear station in Vietnam in 2014. The first reactor will be launched in 2020.

Sergey Balmasov

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