U.K. backs Ukraine nuclear fuel supply

August 24, 2023, 3:00PMNuclear News

U.K. energy security secretary Grant Shapps (center), Ukraine minister of energy German Galushchenko (right), and Ukraine deputy minister of energy Yaroslav Demchenkov (left) with captured Russian military vehicles in Kyiv on August 22. (Photo: BEIS Communications)

The U.K. government has announced its intention to provide a loan guarantee of £192 million (about $244 million) to enable Britain-based Urenco to supply Ukraine’s nuclear operator Energoatom with uranium enrichment services. (Urenco has been a supplier to Energoatom since 2009.) The loan is to be made through UK Export Finance, the nation’s export credit agency.

According to the August 23 announcement, the added support will “strengthen Ukraine’s energy security and further isolate Putin by helping the country maintain its independence from Russian nuclear fuel.” Once provided, the additional funds will boost the United Kingdom’s total nonmilitary assistance to Ukraine to nearly £5 billion (about $6.4 billion), the government stated.

The announcement came as Grant Shapps, U.K. secretary of state for energy security and net zero, visited Kyiv to meet with senior government ministers and leading energy figures—including Energoatom president Petro Kotin and Ukraine’s deputy prime minister Oleksandr Kubrakov and energy minister German Galushchenko—to discuss British support for Ukraine’s eventual recovery.

Shapps’s visit comes just two months after the United Kingdom hosted the Ukraine Recovery Conference in London, where international commitments for the beleaguered Eastern European state’s recovery and reconstruction topped $60 billion. On the sidelines of the conference, the U.K. government also agreed to a memorandum of understanding committing support to Ukraine’s energy sector and green energy future.

Official words: “Our support for Ukraine is unwavering in the face of Putin’s barbaric invasion—the U.K. continues to stand with Ukraine as they repel Russian attacks and rebuild their country,” Shapps declared. “Being here on the ground, it’s truly remarkable witnessing firsthand the sheer courage, resolve, and gritty determination of the Ukrainian people. Putin has used energy as a weapon of war: The action today to support nuclear fuel deliveries will help Ukraine end their reliance on Russian supplies and bolster their energy security.”

Urenco chief executive officer Boris Schucht noted that since the start of the Russian invasion in February of last year, his company has “provided support to our customer, Energoatom, and its employees, and increased our supply of nuclear enrichment services to help provide energy independence and security of supply in Ukraine.”

Schucht also said that Urenco is discussing longer-term supply with Energoatom and has “the capacity to meet current demand for uranium enrichment services and options to increase this to provide an enhanced offering globally.”

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