INDIA: Nuclear Power Corp in JV play

Nuclear Power Corp of India’s JV negotiations with four of the world’s top nuclear equipment suppliers have been put on fast-track. It is in talks with two US vendors, General Electric and Westinghouse, France’s Areva and Russia’s Ros-Atom. The talks assume significance following the release of the draft text of the ultra-sensitive Indo-US civilian nuclear technology sharing deal on Friday.

“Friday’s development is yet another advance towards the Indo-US nuclear deal. We are in exploratory talks with General Electric, Westinghouse, Areva and RosAtom for a possible JV. Discussions will now be taken to the next level so that NPCIL can expedite the process once the civilian nuke deal is signed,” NPCIL chairman & managing director SK Jain told ET.

“At the NPCIL level, we will have to decide on the model to be followed after verifying safety requirements and standards. We also need to ascertain the scope of the Indian side as well as the foreign parties. Following this, we will compute the cost and economic viability of these plants. Subsequently, we will need to assess the financial viability and funding avenues,” he said.

Incidentally, NPCIL proposes to set up several nuclear power stations through the JV route with international partners. According to Mr Jain, the proposed nuclear plants are likely to be built through a 70:30 debt-equity ratio and with soft loans from multilateral agencies.

NPCIL and foreign parties need to work together to determine project costs and financial viability in this light. “The next level of discussions will include negotiations on the terms of the joint venture, although broader policy guidelines will have come from the government. Nevertheless, we may build the first few plants in line with the Kodamkulam plant where reactors are being built with Russian technology,” Mr Jain said.

The Kodamkulam plant is being in Tamil Nadu by Russian firm, Atomstroy Exports. NPCIL is being provided the plant diagram and other details so that they can manage the plant themselves and make repairs on their own if necessary. According to NPCIL officials, “India will try and indigenise as much of the technology as possible so that it can undertake large projects of 1,000 mw projects on its own”.

NPCIL has already collected information on the specifications of reactors and plants after talks with foreign majors. A detailed technical evaluation is underway along with a study to ascertain whether these plants meet safety requirements under international and domestic norms,” Mr Jain explained.

The past round of talks were held with a view to give the foreign nuclear power majors a glimpse of business opportunities in India and the extent of responsibility that the Indian side will undertake.
Via: India Economic Times