Rooppur Nuke plant project may face delay for corona

Russian contractor activates force majeure clauses amid COVID-19

Shamim Jahangir

30 November, 2020 12:00 AM printer

Rooppur Nuke plant project may face delay for corona

The Commercial Operation Date (COD) of Rooppur Nuclear plant may be delayed by 4-6 months as the Nuclear Power Plant Company Bangladesh Ltd has rescheduled the implementation roadmap due to the disruption caused by the corona pandemic.    

Besides, the Russian Contractor has sought to activate the ‘force majeure’ provisions in face of the global pandemic, reliable sources confirmed. As per requirement of the Russian contractor JSC Atomstroyexport, the government has rescheduled the project implementation period this month.

Now, the unit-1 is expected to commence provisional takeover or pre-commercial operation on February 17, 2024, from previously scheduled October 2023. The unit-1 of the plant will commence operations in February 2025, official sources confirmed.      

Besides, the work of loading uranium fuel into the first reactor will begin on February 21, 2023, as per the new schedule. It will be on October 8, 2023, for unit-2.

The start of test and checking equipment for unit-1 will begin on January 19, 2022, reliable sources said after attending at a review meeting chaired by Science and Technology Minister Architect Yeafesh Osman. 

On March 20, 2020, during the initial stage of the COVID-19 outbreak, the contractor of the Rooppur Nuclear Power sought to put the ‘Force Majeure’ measures in effect to avoid liability caused by the disruptions caused by the global pandemic.

The Finance Ministry of the Russian Federation has allocated $1600 million in the current year with the condition of 0.5 per cent of commitment fees as per the IGCA credit deal with Bangladesh for implementing the power project.

Bangladesh has so far spent $454.04 million out of the fund disbursed for the project in 2020. The foundation stone of the Tk 1130.92 billion fast-track power plant was laid in October 2013 and construction started on 1,062 acres of land in November 2017 after singing intergovernmental credit agreement (IGCA) in July 2016.

Bangladesh’s Economic Relations Division may seek to reschedule the credit allocated for the current year to the Russian finance ministry as COVID-19 crisis slowed down the progress of the project in the current year, sources said.              

“They (contractor) have already sought force measure to delay the power project. We have asked them (contractor) to implement the project as per the schedule, but the delay in the installation of the evacuation line may delay of commercial operation date,” said Science and Technology Minister Architect Yeafesh Osman.

He added that a workforce of total 11,000 people including 2000 foreign officials are working relentlessly to implement the project. Senior secretary of science and technology Md Anwar Hossain said they are working to implement the project timely. “We have yet to take any decision to delay the project,” he added.

According to sources, Nuclear Power Plant Company Bangladesh Limited is implementing 74 installations and infrastructures including reactor building, reactor auxiliary buildings, turbine buildings, normal and power supply buildings for unit-1 and unit-2 for setting up the Rooppur nuclear power project. 

The contractor has so far completed over 34.43 meters of the inner containment structure, over 8.35 meters of the outer wall, over 11.3 meters of reactor cavity wall and over 3.55 meters of adjacent structure wall for unit-1 of the power plant.

Besides, reactor auxiliary building construction work also progressed over 4.75 meters.

The construction work of the unit-2 is also progressing.

The construction work for a training centre with NPP training simulator also progressed 75 per cent, officials said. The river training of River Padma near the project site has also made significant progress.

Some 2417 foreigners are now working for NPP site and another 2500 foreigners will join the project within December.          

Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant will consist of two power units equipped with two VVER reactors, the life cycle of which is 60 years with an option to extend the service life for another 20 years. The power capacity of each unit will be 1200 MW.

A third-generation technology is being used to construct the plant with a five-layer security system. With the first nuclear power plant at Rooppur, Bangladesh will become the third Asian country -- after India and Pakistan -- to harness the power of atoms.

In 2017, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the construction of the main concrete structure for the nuclear furnace, with the construction beginning in July of the following year.