Nuclearelectrica, the company that operates the Cernavoda nuclear power plant, announced on Thursday that it signed with Canada’s Cameco Inc. a contract for the purchase of uranium dioxide powder, the raw material for the production of nuclear fuel, after the National Uranium Company, its traditional supplier of raw material, hiked its price by 76 per cent.
The cancellation of the supply contract puts at risk the activity of the National Uranium Company, which was established precisely in order to offer raw material to the Cernavoda nuclear power plant and which does not have other buyers at this moment.
Nuclearelectrica claims it had to resort to an emergency procedure in order to buy the raw materials that allow the two nuclear reactors of the Cernavoda nuclear plant to operate.
“Considering the National Uranium Company’s (CNU) refusal to deliver the dioxide uranium for December, with there being the risk of SNN not being able to ensure the normal operation of the Pitesti Nuclear Fuel Plant (FCN) and of the Cernavoda Nuclear Power Plant, the Nuclearelectrica National Company (SNN) started, in December 2015, an emergency competitive procedure between the two qualified suppliers – CNU and Cameco Inc Canada. Based on the price offer analysis, SNN selected Cameco, the price offered by this supplier being the lower of the two offers, far below the price offered by CNU, at market price level, with all taxes included,” the company communiqué reads.
According to the company, Nuclearelectrica currently has the uranium dioxide needed in order to ensure normal operations. The company is buying uranium dioxide powder that is then turned into nuclear fuel at FCN Pitesti. The fuel is then sent to the Cernavoda nuclear power plant.
The dispute between SNN and CNU started in November 2015, when CNU notified SNN that it can no longer supply raw material at the price of RON 475 per kilogram, a price agreed in the contract signed in 2014, and asked for a 76 per cent hike. SNN refused to pay the price requested, arguing that such a price would lead to losses.
SNN covers approximately 20 per cent of Romania’s electricity production, through the two nuclear reactors of the Cernavoda nuclear plant. The company has a market value of RON 1.6 bln (EUR 358 M), at the latest closing price on the Bucharest Stock Exchange. The Romanian state owns around 82 per cent of the company’s shares, through the Energy Ministry. CNU is also subordinated to the Energy Ministry, which controls 100 per cent of its shares.