So, when we left off yesterday, we were in the grip of a sinister premonition (a chill in the spine when a black cat walks over your grave) that somehow the Americans are behind all this EnergoAtom privatization business.
So, what is the evidence for that?
The raw fact remains, that the shell company (=UkrElektroVat) which was registered in that flat in Dnipropetrovsk, was specifically registered as a joint Ukrainian-American venture. And the fact that Americans are involved should not really surprise anybody, given that the Americans, for many years have been attempting to squeeze Rosatom (=the Russian nuclear energy company) out of the Ukrainian market. The American goal is to supply their own variety of nuclear fuel to Ukrainian power stations. The Americans have also developed a plan to use the Chernobyl Exclusion area as a handy place to store spent nuclear fuel.
Again, for years, the American company Westinghouse, has been trying to get the Ukraine to buy their (=Westinghouse brand) nuclear fuel, instead of the Russian brand. Russian nuclear experts have fought back, claiming that American-style fuel rods do not fit Soviet-type atomic reactors; and that this lack of an exact fit could possibly create a safety hazard. But despite these dire warnings, Ukraine continues on with the experiment.
And indeed, more than once, the Westinghouse fuel rods have almost led to a meltdown, when somebody tried to cram them in the wrong way. But I guess if you just give them a little extra twist — like this — then they go in okay.
Mix And Match Fuel Rods
We now introduce a man named Vladimir Rostovsky, and I cannot find a wiki entry or a picture of him. Or rather, I have the opposite problem: His name is so common that there are a dozen possible Vladimir Rostovskys — a painter, a magician, an athlete, even a monkey, I kid you not. Anyhow, the real Rostovsky heads the Safety Division of the Southern Ukrainian nuclear complex. A few days ago this Rostovsky told the press, that already in two Ukrainian nuclear power plants (the South-Ukraine one, and the one in Zaporozhie), up to 6 reactors are using the Westinghouse fuel rods. Both Russian and American fuel rods are in use together within the same power plant, a sort of international detente within the nuclear core.
However, the truce is only temporary. By 2018, according to Rostovsky, EnergoAtom intends to fully switch out the Russian fuel rods and go all-American with Westinghouse. Which, actually, is partially a Japanese company.
As another element in her strategic initiative to divest herself of everything Russian, Ukraine, along with her American partners, recently resurrected an old, and delayed, plan to develop her own storage reservoir for spent nuclear fuel. Currently the Ukrainians are forced against their will to use the services of the despised Rosatom for this purpose. But this past January, in Belgium, Ukraine signed a contract with the American Corporation Holtec International. Holtec will build a storage reservoir within the Chernobyl Exclusion Sector. For this service, EnergoAtom will pay Holtec $300 million by 2020.
Tyumen A Role Model?
And thus the Americans continue their march into all areas of the Ukrainian economy, with nobody really trying to stop them. The question is raised: Why are the Americans so interested in EnergoAtom? American nuclear projects are very pricey, and it’s not like EnergoAtaom has much spare cash to pay them. And in turn the Americans are not known for their philanthropic bent. They will not invest, unless they see some big dividend in the future.
The key to this riddle is the concept of privatization. So, we get back to that. The thought is, that once EnergoAtom is in private hands, then the new owners will be able to raise their fees sky-high. Currently the Ukrainians have the lowest fuel bills in all of Europe. But that will change; and it will be these higher fees, scraped off the population, which will pay for the American projects.
Our old friend Alexei Anpilogov explains: “EnergoAtom is one of only a few attractive investments. The company which acquires control over EnergoAtom, will acquire control over The Ukraine. Once you acquire 50% of Ukrainian electrical energy, then you can simply dictate the conditions to the whole of the industry and the whole of the population of the country. Here is a simple example: the politics of the Finnish investors in the heating network of Tyumen. When they [=the Finnish investors] were able to privatize and monopolize the delivery of heating services to Tyumen, they immediately announced a raise in prices many times over. They needed to do this in order to cover their investment. I believe that a similar scenario will happen with EnergoAtom. But so long as this company remains state-owned, their tactic will be to complicate its financial situation as much as they can, in order to subsequently buy it up as cheaply as possible.”
The VZGLIAD piece concludes by conceding, that possibly the woes of EnergoAtom are not in fact caused by “the American trace”. It’s possible that the little man standing behind the curtain is simply some local (Ukrainian) oligarch. Who has the support of Ukraine’s President, Petro Poroshenko. In either case, the fundamental situation will not change. The Ukrainian people are in for a rise in prices for electrical energy, and possibly even a safety hazard affecting their lives.