Joachim Specht and Esa Härmälä of Fennovoima reacted in a news conference held in Helsinki on Monday, 2 May 2022. (Roni Rekomaa – Lehtikuva)

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ROSATOM, the Russian state-owned atomic energy company, has expressed its disappointment and puzzlement with the termination of the plant delivery contract for Hanhikivi 1, the nuclear power plant project of Fennovoima in Pyhäjoki, North Ostrobothnia, reports YLE.

“The reasons for this decision are completely inexplicable to us,” reads a statement put out by RAOS Voima, the Finnish subsidiary of Rosatom.

The Russian state-owned company insisted that the project has progressed well and the co-operation between the participants has been well-established, adding that the decision was made unilaterally, without lending an ear to RAOS Voima.

“We reserve the right to defend our rights in accordance with the applicable contracts and laws.”

Fennovoima on Monday announced its decision to terminate the supplier contract for the nuclear power plant with Rosatom, saying RAOS Project, the Rosatom subsidiary that was to deliver the plant, has experienced delays significant enough to warrant questioning its ability to see through the project.

The Finnish nuclear energy company also called attention to the growing risks associated with the project due to the war waged in Ukraine by Russia.

Everyone at Fennovoima is sad and disappointed, according to CEO Joachim Specht. “This is not what we wanted to do. We wanted to deliver this project. Needless to say that with this setup we won’t accomplish that,” he said in a news conference in Helsinki.

While co-operation with the plant supplier has been terminated with immediate effect and both the design and licensing work at the construction site has ended, Rosatom remains a shareholder, with a stake of roughly 34 per cent, in Fennovoima through RAOS Voima. The rest of shares in the company are owned by Voimaosakeyhtiö SF, a consortium of companies and municipal energy utilities of all sizes in Finland.

Specht acknowledged in a press release that the termination of the engineering, procurement and construction contract will have a significant impact on the employees and supply chain of Fennovoima.

“Of course we’ll have people on the payroll, but we have to now follow the change negotiation and reduce our staff significantly until the end of the year. How many will remain on the payroll? It’s too early to give any precise or credible figures on that,” he added in the news news conference.

Another focus for the company is preserving the construction site, according to Specht.

“The preservation of the site, of course, means to first suspend activities related to our formal [engineering, procurement and construction] contractor and second to conclude, in a controlled and defined way, the activities Fennovoima itself conducts on the site, like the erection of the administration building,” he said.

“It also has to do a lot with collecting the relevant site data or relevant information in order to maintain or obtain a maximum level of information and, in this condition, preserve the site for potential future activities.”

Both Specht and Esa Härmälä, the board chairperson at Fennovoima, underlined that the primary reason for terminating the co-operation was not Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We base our decisions on facts and the fact is that this contract has been suspended due to the delays and inability to deliver. We’ve perceived that the war has increased these risks,” stated Härmälä.

“It’s not one single event,” echoed Specht. “It has happened for years and the lack of capabilities and delivery capabilities has accumulated.”

Härmälä revealed that approximately 600–700 million euros has already been poured into the project, with each stakeholder contributing a share equivalent to their stake in the nuclear energy company.

The Finnish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment on Monday responded to the news by commending the decision to terminate the delivery contract.

“The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment considers the owner’s decision regarding the plant delivery contract justified and consistent. The termination of the contract is an understandable measure in this situation,” it said in a press release.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT