Dhaka/Moscow, Oct 5 (EFE).- Russia on Thursday delivered the first batch of nuclear fuel to Bangladesh to operate the first unit of its upcoming maiden atomic power plant in Rooppur, in the western part of the country, as part of a $12.65 billion project mainly financed (90 percent) by Moscow.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina marked what they called a “landmark event” with a ceremony, held via videoconference.
“The flagship project meets both countries’ interests, helps foster deeper bilateral cooperation and contributes to economic development and energy security,” Putin said in his address, according to Russian state media Sputnik.
“Bangladesh is our long-time friend and good partner,” he added, recalling that Russia was one of the first nations to recognize Bangladesh as an independent nation in January 1972.
Meanwhile Hasina thanked the Russian government and Putin for the project, and said that it was the dream of Bangladesh’s founder, her father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, to build a nuclear power plant with Russian help.
“Today Bangladesh is moving far ahead, we are entering the nuclear era,” the PM said after receiving a certificate from Russian officials formalizing the handover of nuclear fuel in Dhaka.
The ceremony was also attended by the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, the director general of Russian state-owned nuclear power firm Rosatom, Alexey Likhachev, Bangladesh’s science and technology minister Yeafesh Osman, and the Bangladeshi and Russian officials in-charge of the plant’s construction.
In 2016, Bangladesh had signed an agreement with Russia to build its first two nuclear power plants in the western Rooppur region, with a total cost of $12.65 billion, with Moscow set to extend 90 percent of the funds in credit along with providing technical assistance.
The first unit is expected to begin functioning later this year, having already been delayed by a year, followed by the second in 2024, with the combined capacity of generating 2,400 megawatts of power.
Both units will use Russian third-generation VVER1200/523 reactors (cooled and regulated by water).
As per the authorities, Bangladesh aims to raise the contribution of nuclear power to its total energy production to 12 percent by 2041.
The Asian nation has been witnessing energy problems for months, especially after authorities last year decided to shut down all diesel power plants due to the rising fuel prices in the world market. EFE