$11.38B LOANS FOR NUCLEAR POWER PLANT: Govt to repay $569m in first instalment in 2027

 

Of the Rooppur nuclear power plant’s two units which would generate a combined 2,400 megawatts of electricity, the first (1,200MW) is expected to become operational from 2023 and the second in 2024. The photo was taken at the project site in Pabna’s Ishwardi upazila yesterday. Ahmed Humayun Kabir Topu

The government will pay $569 million as the first annual instalment against the loan taken from Russia for the construction of the Rooppur nuclear power plant, the largest infrastructure development project in Bangladesh.

The first instalment will be paid in March 2027, according to Shaukat Akbar, the project director.

The $11.38 billion loan covers 90 per cent of the project cost.

As per the agreement, the government has to complete repaying the loan in 20 years, running from March 2027 to 2047, he said.

The repayment period is 30 years, including a grace period of 10 years which will come to an end in 2027.

However, the government has been paying the interest of the loan and till date has not missed a payment.

The Russian loan carries an interest rate of LIBOR plus 1.75 per cent. The interest rate will not exceed 4 per cent.

The agreement was signed between Bangladesh and Russia in 2016 while disbursements began in 2017.

Akbar shared this information with a group of journalists at the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission in Dhaka last Thursday.

The Electricity Cost

The price at which each unit of electricity will be purchased from the Rooppur plant will not exceed the existing price level of base load power plants, said Akbar, indicating coal-based power plants.

He, however, declined to state the exact figure.

A Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) official said the government has gradually started purchasing electricity from the coal-based power plant at Payra.

It is around Tk 6 per unit, said the BPDB official.

Of the Rooppur plant’s two units which would generate a combined 2,400 megawatts (MW) of electricity, the first (1,200MW) is expected to become operational from 2023 and the second unit in 2024.

Fuel Requirement

Uranium will fuel the Rooppur plant, according to the project director.

The agreement covers the fuel cost for the first three years, so Bangladesh will not have to pay any additional money during that time.

Each unit will require 30 to 35 tonnes of fuel in a year, he said.

After three years, when the agreement’s tenure expires, Bangladesh will have to purchase the fuel following a new pricing formula.

The prices of fuels used in nuclear power plants do not fluctuate as do the prices of other fuels, he added.

The power plant’s lifespan has been fixed at 60 years.

Trained Manpower

The nature of the Rooppur power plant necessitates the use of manpower with specialised knowledge and skill.

Some 1,700 trained personnel will be required for running the two units by gradually taking over charge from Russian experts.

Long term training from Russia is needed for 1,000 personnel. Some 600 have already come back from Russia on receiving training. By 2022, the training of the rest is expected to be complete, Akbar said.

Some 700 personnel will receive training at the plant site, he added. Apart from trained manpower, a significant number of non-technical manpower will also be required.

Once the plant goes into operation, it will not only produce electricity, but also create a lot of economic opportunities and change the livelihoods of a good number of people in the area, he added.

Sharing his experience, Akbar said he has been travelling to the plant site since 2013, when he saw a lot of workers coming to their workplaces riding on bicycles.

Now they come on motorcycles.

“I dream of seeing the workers come to their workplaces riding cars,” he added.

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