Rosatom and its subsidiaries have cut costs by as much as 15% in order to remain competitive in the global market and despite "political pressure" on its business, the corporation's director general, Sergey Kirienko, told Russian President Vladimir Putin during their working meeting at the Kremlin today. The aim is to reduce costs by 10% on average each year, Kirienko added.

A transcript of their conversation was published on the Kremlin's website.

Last year, 10% cost cuts were achieved in all the corporation's business areas, including uranium mining, fuel assembly production, power generation and waste management, Kirienko said. "The cost price per kilogram of uranium or per kilogram of fuel we produce is about 10% less than it was," he said, adding that such savings had been achieved "primarily through the creation of a competitive environment".

Tenders for contracts in the Russian nuclear industry have brought down prices for long-lead items of equipment, such as reactor vessels, turbines, steam generators and main pumps, pipelines. These cost about 11% less last year than they did in 2007, he said, making a saving to Rosatom of RUB34 billion ($673 million).

Last year was a record year for the corporation in terms of power generation - 182 terawatt hours, or 14 TWh more than the federal target. Nuclear power accounts for 17% of power generation in Russia, 2% higher than in previous years, he said.

Labour productivity has risen by 11.7%, which "did not hamper plant reliability or stability of operation", he said. This year, there has been no single plant incident or event above the international safety scale of zero, he added.

"Indicators show that for the past few years, the reliability of Russian nuclear plants has been about two times better than those of our colleagues in Europe and the United States of America," he said.

Highlights of the past year include, he said, the first criticality of unit 4 of the Beloyarsk nuclear power plant in November and of unit 3 of the Rostov plant in December. The latter had not been expected before the first quarter of this year, and its early start-up had meant a cost saving of RUB2 billion to Rosatom.

The value of Rosatom's foreign order book rose by RUB34 billion within a year to reach RUB101.4 billion by the end of 2014, Kirienko told Putin. New orders include two new units each at Bushehr in Iran, Kudankulam in India and Paks in Hungary.

Putin referred to a report in the Financial Times that said the European Commission planned to block Hungary's nuclear fuel supply deal with Russia for the Paks nuclear power plant expansion project - the Euratom Supply Agency in fact recently approved the deal.  Of the success of the Hungarian deal despite the negative press it had attracted, Putin said: "We have good [contract] terms and the latest technology, so of course if [our] partner had been forced to pull out then this would certainly have been detrimental to the national interests of Hungary itself."

Kirienko added: "In order to keep our offers competitive, even when there is political pressure [on us], it is very important to keep our costs down."

Source: World Nuclear News