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Interview of Liudmila Zalimskaya, General Director of TENEX, with the industry publication “Vestnik Atomproma”


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15.06.2017, 15:33  /  Vestnik Atomproma #5, 2017

Why does the sectorial integrator in charge of back-end products promotion on the global market consider Japanese direction among the priority ones?

 

In the context of back-end services promotion, Rosatom is ready to undertake a thing practically unbelievable. Currently it is the only company in the world developing a concept of a two-component nuclear power plant (NPP). The idea is locating thermal and fast neutron reactors on a shared site that would enable efficiently closing the nuclear fuel cycle (NFC). These points, and also the idea that back-end needs not political discussions but international cooperation were tackled in an interview to “Vestnik Atomproma” by TENEX General Director Mrs. Lyudmila Zalimskaya
 
- Lyudmila Mikhailovna, if you would permit, I would like to start with a question concerning the Company’s traditional uranium business, that TENEX has been engaged for over forty five years. Two years ago Rosatom announced its intention to seize over forty percent of the global front-end market by 2030. What has TENEX done in the conditions of the toughest competition to attain this target, and what remains to be done?
 
- You are quite right, the scope of Rosatom’s presence on the global uranium market is largely determined by enriched uranium product (EUP) and uranium enrichment services deliveries to western-design reactors, which are performed by our Company. During the HEU-LEU program implementation we provided around one third of requirements by foreign NPP’s in uranium enrichment services: with the program completed in 2013 the share reduced some 10 percent. One of the key targets of TENEX’s business strategy is to seize around one fourth of this market by the end of the next decade. And there should be no doubt, we are actively working on this: in addition to conventional contracting work with utilities, we are implementing a number of strategic projects, including those in alliance with foreign suppliers of NFC products, and acquire new market niches.
As for attaining by 2030 the share announced by Rosatom, I am confident that summing up the “contributions” by all nuclear industry companies operating on the global market of NFC front-end products, namely Atomredmetzoloto (ARMZ) and Uranium One (as to natural uranium sales) and TVEL (as to sales of uranium conversion and enrichment services contained in fuel assemblies), would bring us to a forty percent market share.
 
- TENEX was appointed the sectorial integrator for promotion on the global market of Russian hi-tech back-end solutions. How does the Company address this complicated issue in conditions of generally not so favorable foreign trade and political situation?
 
- I am confident that back-end business, i.e. all aspects related to the final stage of the nuclear energy life cycle, should be conducted in the context of sustainable development separately from the political situation. Spent nuclear fuel (SNF) and radwaste management, decommissioning of shut down NPP units is a global scale issue directly related to environmental safety. Broad international cooperation is a must.
A vivid example is the situation with Fukushima Daiichi NPP struck by a severe accident. Anyone possessing the necessary competence in the field is ready to assist Japan in remediating the consequences of the accident, and, by the way, Rosatom was among the first to offer its services. No political barriers exist here: there is a demand for any technology that would meet safety, reliability and cost-efficiency criteria. A similar approach should be applied to SNF and radwaste management, planned decommissioning of nuclear and radiation dangerous facilities. Priority should be given to the most efficient solutions regardless of those who offered them.
Following this logical pattern we analyze the available back-end technologies and offer competitive solutions to potential customers. The first, yet preliminary results testify that we have selected the right vector, and there is no doubt that the business has good prospects.
 
- In one of your interviews you have made a very good point that the role of an integrator is similar to that of an orchestra conductor: to combine the interests of foreign customers and the capabilities of Russian fabricators. Although we are aware of the restrictions imposed by nondisclosure agreements with your partners, could you briefly comment on the Company’s achieved in this area…
 
- Using the above-mentioned allegory, I believe we successfully cope with the conductor’s functions both inside and outside the Russian nuclear industry – structuring relations with potential foreign users of back-end products.
 
- How do you interact with industry suppliers of back-end products and services?
 
- We have established close contacts with practically all Russian facilities involved in back-end issues. We have drawn up inventory of the technological competences by Russian facilities, and we are jointly formulating proposals to foreign customers. I refer to a broad variety of solutions for SNF and radwaste management offered under package contracts for Russian-design NPP construction abroad, and participating in tenders for decommissioning of foreign nuclear and radiation dangerous facilities or purchasing other back-end services.
 
- What projects of interest are on the agenda of negotiations with customers?
 
- We are searching for partners who could be interested in newly developed Russian technologies, including REMIX uranium-plutonium fuel fabrication and minor actinides afterburning in fast reactors. In my opinion, of good export potential are multi-purpose products and services based on the above-mentioned technologies united by a common idea of closing NFC through extracting from SNF of fissile materials for reuse, and simultaneously lowering the volume and level of radiation danger of disposed waste
Very promising for back-end services promotion is the Rosatom developed concept of a two-component NPP with thermal and fast neutron reactors sharing a common site that would ensure efficient closing of NFC. A representative from TENEX is a member of the sectorial working group in charge of developing this concept. When available, Rosatom will offer foreign companies various patterns of participation in the project.
 
- Stepping up in the last two years of the Russian-Japanese dialog, inter alia in the sphere of peaceful uses of atomic energy, given TENEX’s specialization, the history of its presence on the Japanese market and the Company’s ambitious goals, have objectively predetermined the exceptionally high level of TENEX’ involvement in the dialog. Lyudmila Mikhailovna, could you brief us on this side of the Company’s activities?
 
- The Japanese direction is actually one of the priority areas of the Company’s activities. Within the framework of implementing the so-called Putin-Abe Plan, and pursuant to the signed on the fields of President Putin’s visit to Tokyo Memorandum on cooperation in the peaceful uses of atomic energy, Rosatom and the key Japanese ministry have created a bilateral implementation mechanism – a Joint Working Group on Nuclear Energy, and I have been appointed its head on the Russian side. So our Company that has been for nearly two decades been supplying NFC front-end products to the Japanese utilities, now becomes the principal interlink in further development of relations along all directions of peaceful uses of atomic energy, including back-end.
It is a very honorable and responsible mission, and I would say, it came no surprise to us. From the moment TENEX was appointed the sectorial integrator for back-end products promotion on the global market, we have considered the Japanese direction as one of the most important and promising. Long before the above-mentioned Memorandum was signed – and our subsidiary TENEX-Japan was directly involved in the process – we familiarized the Japanese partners with the available Russian experience in the field, held preliminary consultations on potential directions of cooperation. The Memorandum has stepped up this dialog, provided it with the state support, fixed the priority themes for joint activities: remediation of consequences of the accident at Fukushima-Daiichi NPP and investigating potential cooperation in the field of promising nuclear technologies.
 
- Surely, after signing this document the dialog with the Japanese partners has entered another qualitative level?
 
- There should be no doubt about it. It is evidenced, inter alia, by the sharply increased frequency of contacts. In the first quarter of 2017, in addition to regular exchange of information by correspondence, a visit of Russian experts to Japan and the Joint Working Group meeting, a representative delegation from TEPCO paid a technical visit to Rosatom’s facilities (JSC ODC UGR, Novo-Voronezh NPP), and the National Research Center Kurchatov Institute, where they had an opportunity to familiarize themselves with various Russian technologies that could be used in decommissioning of Fukushima-Daiichi NPP. Early this April a Russian delegation headed by Rosatom CEO visited the site of this NPP and held negotiations with heads of the industry specific Ministries and heads of the companies involved in remediation of the accident consequences.
The atmosphere of trust and mutual understanding between Russian and Japanese nuclear specialists that emerged during these contacts will, no doubt, facilitate further cooperation. To add, the first practical result was a tender won by a consortium of TENEX and Federal Unitary Enterprise RosRAO to develop a neutron detector for studying the status of molten fuel in Fukushima reactors. The tender was organized by Mitsubishi Research Institute. Although it is a low-cost project, I am confident that it will be followed by other large-scale joint projects not only at Fukushima Daiichi NPP, but also at other nuclear and radiation dangerous facilities to be decommissioned on a planned basis.
The main ground for that, in my opinion, is the shared aspiration of Russia and Japan expressed on the highest state level to develop cooperation in peaceful uses of atomic energy and constant control over the process progress by the leaders of our countries.

 

 

 

 

  

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