Colombo wants to build nuclear reactors with help from Moscow

The Russian embassy announced that “the meeting focused on the needs of the energy sector”. Sri Lankan authorities are considering several options to address the island nation’s energy crisis. In 2023 there are likely to be many power cuts.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – Sri Lanka, in search of alternative sources to meet its energy needs, has discussed cooperation on nuclear energy with Russia. In recent days, the Minister of Energy and Electricity, Kanchana Wijesekera, spoke about the initiative with the Russian ambassador Levan Dzhagaryan.

The Sri Lankan authorities are looking for new sources of supply to address the energy and fuel crisis in the country, in turn caused by an economic crisis characterized by scarce foreign exchange reserves.

The Russian Embassy tweeted that “the meeting focused on the needs of Sri Lanka’s energy sector, such as fuel, refinery operations, coal supply and energy cooperation.” nuclear”. The same words were used by Minister Wijesekera, who also cited “the memorandum of understanding signed for cooperation on nuclear energy with Rosatom”. Rosatom is a Russian state-owned company specializing in nuclear energy and high-tech products.

Some scholars have revealed ad AsiaNews that “Russia would be able to solve most of Sri Lanka’s energy problems”. Earlier this year, especially in the run-up to current Minister Wijesekera taking office, “the country had difficulties in securing energy supplies. For this reason, the island is seeking energy cooperation with other nations. Russia can play a significant role in this respect”.

The Russians reveal that they have already engaged with the Sri Lankan Ministry of Energy to increase trade in the energy sector. The discussions focused on the supply of oil and coal, but also “touched the possibility of other projects, considering Russia’s nuclear energy capabilities”.

According to Energy Ministry sources, Russia is ready to expand trade cooperation with Sri Lanka not only in the energy sector, but also in agriculture, tourism and health care. In January 2018, Russia and Sri Lanka held talks for the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Nikolay Spassky, deputy director general of Russia’s state nuclear company Rosatom, had met with former energy minister and science, technology and research minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya and Susil Premajayantha.

Scholars and engineers from the most important national universities commented that “Russia, being one of the main players in the construction of nuclear reactors, could offer technical knowledge and investments. While the Sri Lankan population could oppose the project, Russia could propose various options, including off-shore platforms”.

Sources of the Ceylon Electricity Board (Ceb) explained that “Sri Lanka will face a serious energy crisis in 2023 due to the problem of the supply of coal for the Norocholai power plant. The country needs 38 shipments of coal before April 30, 2023; existing coal stocks will only be sufficient until January 20, 2023.”

Sri Lanka, which gets 40% of its electricity from coal, has been unable to procure the necessary fossil fuels due to the foreign exchange crisis. Furthermore, added the Ceb, “due to adverse weather conditions, we cannot currently unload the coal lots. As a result, in 2023 we will be forced to suffer very long power outages, risking the longest cut in history”.

Colombo wants to build nuclear reactors with help from Moscow