EXIM signals interest in Romanian nuclear project

November 16, 2022, 9:53AMNuclear News
From left: Romanian minister of energy Virgil Popescu, U.S. Export-Import Bank president and chair Reta Jo Lewis, Romanian president Klaus Iohannis, U.S. special presidential envoy for climate John Kerry, and U.S. State Department assistant secretary Geoffrey Pyatt. (Photo: ExIm)

The Export-Import Bank of the United States has issued two letters of interest (LOIs) for the financing of U.S.-sourced pre-project technical services in connection with the proposed reactor construction project at Romania’s Cernavoda nuclear plant, the bank announced last week.

Located in southeastern Romania, Cernavoda is home to two operating 650-MWe CANDU-6 pressurized heavy-water reactors, Units 1 and 2, plus the partially completed CANDU-6 Units 3 and 4—work on which was halted not long after the collapse of the Ceauşescu regime in 1989. Nuclearelectrica, the largely state-owned utility that operates the facility, plans to finish building Cernavoda-3 and -4.

What they’re saying: Making the announcement at the COP27 climate change conference in Egypt was EXIM president and chair Reta Jo Lewis, alongside U.S. special presidential envoy for climate John Kerry, Romanian president Klaus Iohannis, Romanian energy minister Virgil Popescu, and U.S. State Department assistant secretary Geoffrey Pyatt.

“Since I began my tenure at EXIM, I have made climate finance a priority,” said Lewis. “EXIM is dedicated to supporting President Biden’s commitment to providing more than $11 billion in climate finance per year, and I am proud to announce that, in 2022, EXIM provided the highest volume of climate finance support the agency has seen in years. I look forward to continuing the expansion of our outreach efforts as we—and other and other likeminded nations—work to combat climate change. Additionally, I am grateful for the partnership of minister Popescu and [Nuclearelectrica’s chief executive officer] Cosmin Ghita and look forward to a strong working relationship over the next several years as the project comes to fruition.”

EXIM financing: According to a Nuclearelectrica media release, “Based on the preliminary information submitted, EXIM would be able to consider financing up to $50 million of the U.S. export contract for pre-project engineering services as part of the engineering multiplier program and up to $3 billion of the U.S. export contract for engineering and project management services for the Units 3 and 4 Cernavoda NPP completion contract.”

Background: In October 2020—just months after Romania canceled an agreement with China General Nuclear Power Corporation for the development, construction, operation, and decommissioning of Cernavoda-3 and -4—the United States and Romania signed an intergovernmental agreement cooperate on the expansion and modernization of Romania’s civil nuclear energy program, specifically, the completion of Units 3 and 4 plus the refurbishment of Unit 1. The Romanian Parliament later ratified the agreement.

That same month, EXIM expressed, through a memorandum of understanding with the Romanian Ministry of Energy, its interest in financing energy investment projects in Romania, including nuclear projects, with a total value of $7 billion.

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