Ignoring questions from experts, the government has selected a Russian company as the lone uranium supplier for the lifetime of Bangladesh's first nuclear power plant.
TVEL Joint Stock Company, a state-run uranium mining and nuclear fuel production entity of Russia, will supply the fuel to the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant (RNPP) from 2027 till the plant remains in operation.
Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC), the project owner, inked a contract with TVEL on Tuesday at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel in Dhaka.
According to the agreement, the company will supply the first instalment of Uranium in 2027 while the first unit of the project is expected to be commissioned by 2023. The plant's operational life is estimated to be 60 years.
Experts, on different occasions, argued that Bangladesh will be deprived of a competitive price for the uranium by selecting a single company as its supplier.
Sources at the BAEC said that after every 18 months one-third of the nuclear fuel will have to be changed.
Considering the inflation of dollars and euros in the international market, the price per kilogram of Uranium was estimated at $550 till 2027.
As per a parameter of the Methodology of Contract Price, the cost of refuelling of a single unit will be $62 million each time.
However, the price of the Uranium will be evaluated and revised every 10 years.
Fedor Sokolov, commercial Director of TVEL, and Mahbubul Hoq, chairman of BAEC, signed for their respective sides, in the agreement.
Defending their decision to pick a lone fuel supplier, Yeafesh Osman, state minister for science and technology, said, "All the technologies used in the project are manufactured by the Russian company, and there is a certain formula all over the world for receiving fuel supply. We are following that."
He ruled out any possibility of risks, and said they will ensure public safety through the use of advanced technologies.
The country's biggest project in terms of cost is under construction with Russian finance and technological support.
"This is a pride and priority project and we are doing it consciously in such way. I can assure you that the Russian Federation will provide all necessary assistance," said Alexander I Ignatov, Russian ambassador in Dhaka.
There is wide concern about the power generation cost at the $13billion plant, which is two times higher than the construction cost of any others of its kind in other countries.
The project implementing authority, however, has been claiming that the power generation cost will be lower in comparison to that in traditional coal and gas fired power plants.
"The energy generation cost of this power plant will be 20-25 percent lower when compared to that of coal and gas fired electricity generation plants," said Dr Mohammad Shawkat Akbar, project director of RNPP.
The first unit of the 2,400MW power plant is expected to go into production by 2023.