October 10, 2018 / 3:25 PM / 2 months ago

UPDATE 1-Commissioning of Russian-supplied nuclear reactor in Finland likely to be delayed beyond 2024 -consortium

(Adds details, background)

By Lefteris Karagiannopoulos

OSLO, Oct 10 (Reuters) - A Finnish-Russian consortium’s plan to build a nuclear reactor in western Finland by 2024 is likely to be delayed as more time is needed to secure licenses, its chairman said on Wednesday.

The Fennovoima consortium includes Russia’s state nuclear company Rosatom, whose involvement has raised concerns in Finland about Russia’s influence in the country.

The Finnish parliament, however, approved the project to build the 1.2 gigawatt (GW) reactor, which is expected to cost 6.5 billion-7 billion euros ($7.5 billion-$8 billion), to boost domestic energy production.

“Normally when a plane departs late it arrives late. 2024 would be extremely ambitious if not unrealistic,” the consortium’s chairman, Esa Harmala, told Reuters.

The consortium also includes Finnish power company Fortum and stainless steel maker Outokumpu, among other companies.

Finland’s nuclear regulator STUK said last week it would make a decision on a license to start construction of the reactor, named Hanhikivi 1, in 2020, pending the provision of documents from its owners, including Rosatom.

The Fennovoima consortium said last year it would submit the documents in 2018 and that it expected to get a permit in 2019, a year later than originally planned.

STUK said last week that the consortium informed it in August that the documents would be submitted by July 2019.

Harmala also said he expected that the documents would be supplied by summer next year, as more information is required from Rosatom. That means the consortium may not get STUK approval until 2020 and would struggle to meet its target to start the plant in 2024.

“We are still discussing with the supplier (Rosatom). By the end of this year we will get an updated timetable on the schedule,” said Harmala.

A spokesman for Rosatom, which holds a 34 percent stake in Fenovoima consortium, said that “as of now” there has been no change on the planed startup date agreed by its members.

Rosatom, which has been stepping up an overseas expansion, agreed in 2013 to take the stake in the project, and to supply the reactor.

A Finnish project to build another nuclear power plant in Finland, Olkiluoto 3, is already more than a decade behind schedule, and may face further postponements, plant operator Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) said on last week.

Reporting by Lefteris Karagiannopoulos; Editing by Susan Fenton

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