Westinghouse may ink preliminary deal with NPCIL

Four more nuclear reactors to be installed in Gujarat
Last Updated 18 February 2016, 19:25 IST

The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited and the US energy major Westinghouse Electric Company are likely to sign yet another preliminary agreement for four more additional reactors to be installed at the proposed atomic power plant at Mithi Virdi in Gujarat.

The NPCIL and WEC may ink a new Early Works Agreement for the four reactors during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tour to Washington DC to attend the Nuclear Security Summit from March 31 to April 1, as both Indian and American governments are keen to make some progress during the visit towards much-delayed commercial implementation of the 2008 Indo-US civil nuclear cooperation pact.

The WEC inked an Early Works Agreement with the NPCIL in 2013 for construction of two AP1000 reactors at the proposed nuclear power plant at Mithi Virdi. The proposed power plant however was originally envisaged to have six reactors.  

The US company, however, of late evinced interests to raise the ambit of the deal with the NPCIL, in order to cover all the six reactors proposed to be installed in the power plant, sources told Deccan Herald in New Delhi. They can either ink a Memorandum of Understanding to raise the ambit of the 2013 deal to cover all the six 1000 MWe Light Water Reactors proposed to be installed at the power plant or strike a new deal, added the sources, who are aware of efforts being made for commercial implementation of the landmark India-US nuke deal.

Once the Early Works Agreement covering all the six reactors is signed, the WEC and the NPCIL will be able to commence negotiations for techno-commercial pacts for all the units of the proposed power-plant, said sources.

Modi and French President Francois Hollande, who was on a visit to New Delhi last month, prodded the NPCIL and Électricité de France (EDF) to conclude negotiations for techno-commercial agreements covering all the six proposed units of the atomic power plant to be set up at Jaitapur in Maharashtra by the end of 2016 and commence works on the project in early 2017.

WEC evinced its interest to cover all the six reactors in its negotiations with NPCIL after New Delhi earlier this month removed the last hurdle for commercial implementation of the Indo-US nuke deal by ratifying the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage, 1997, which is also known as the CSC. The move put to rest all speculations about purported incompatibility of the country’s Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage (CLND) Act 2010 with the CSC.

The last seven years saw very little progress on commercial implementation of the 2008 nuclear deal as many US companies had concerns over the CLND Act of India.

The visit of US President Barack Obama to India in January 2015 saw the logjam over nuclear liability being broken, with New Delhi setting up a nuclear insurance pool. The WEC and other US companies however still had concerns over incompatibility of India’s nuclear liability regime with the CSC. 

(Published 18 February 2016, 19:25 IST)

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