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Russia to build nuclear plants in Argentina

14 July 2014

On a visit to Argentina as part of a tour of Latin America, Russian President Vladimir Putin has unveiled a number of joint energy projects, principally covering the nuclear, hydropower and shale oil sectors. One project involves Russian nuclear engineering group Rosatom, which could participate in the construction of new reactors at the Atucha nuclear power plant.

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin

The first reactor at Atucha, situated in Buenos Aires province, has been operational since 1974, and the second achieved first criticality in June. Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak, part of Putin’s Latin American delegation, said a technical and commercial offer had been made to Argentina regarding the construction of two further reactors at the site and a tender would be submitted later in the year.

Russia’s Inter RAO group is planning to help in the construction of Chihuido-1 hydropower plant on the Neuquen River – a project worth US$2 billion. Another Russian company – Silovye Mashiny – is supplying hydrogenerator equipment for the Punta Negra hydropower plant, Putin said.

Argentina urgently requires foreign investment as it faces a possible default after investors rejected a proposed debt restructuring package. Novak said Rosatom could offer "comfortable" financial terms to Argentina, which has struggled to advance its nuclear energy programme and lure foreign investors deterred by stringent capital and import controls.

Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner said a Russian delegation would visit the Vaca Muerta shale fields in the south of the country.

Vaca Muerta is thought to contaiun some of the biggest shale oil and gas reserves in the Western Hemisphere and could double Argentina's energy output within a decade. But it is in the early stage of development and needs significant investment to fulfil its potential.

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