Russia pitches nuclear deal in the Drakensberg
The department of energy has kicked off the “vendor parade” workshops it said it would hold with countries vying for the nuclear contracts with Russia this week.
The Witness reported that 20 of Vladimir Putin’s top nuclear experts pitched for South Africa’s biggest deal — with an estimated R1 trillion price tag — at a secret meeting in the Drakensberg.
The Witness said 50 South African experts — including its nuclear chief, Zizamele Mbambo — grilled officials from Russia’s state atomic energy company, Rosatom, at a secretive four-day conference at the Champagne Sports Resort.
According to The Witness, officials initially denied that Rosatom was present, and the secrecy blanket included the omission of the company’s name from all workshop materials.
Rosatom officials pitched eight of their “VVER” pressurised water reactors for South Africa’s nuclear build programme, which plans to add 9 600 megawatts to the grid by 2030.
The Russians were given the opportunity to present the first workshop in which to “parade” their offering and France and China are set to follow later.
The DA last week alleged that the secretive workshops with various countries were “window dressing”, and that “all evidence points to a done deal with the Russians”, The Witness said.
Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson recently signed a controversial co-operation agreement for the procurement of VVER reactors with a total installed capacity of up to 9.6 gigawatts.
This was followed by an agreement with France last week.
Last Saturday, the department said it would hold workshops with all vendor countries which had agreed to participate, where they could showcase their nuclear technology and demonstrate how they planned to meet South Africa’s needs if selected as the successful bidder.
– The Witness and staff reporter