President of Russia Vladimir Putin: How is the corporation doing?
Director General of the State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom Alexei Likhachev: Mr President, the Supervisory Council has finally endorsed our 2022 performance results. Despite the external pressure, we performed steadily in the first six months of the year. We have maintained all our positive trends. We can now talk about our forecast until the end of the year, economic indicators and major projects. We will fulfil the state defence order by 100 percent and complete all federal projects on time.
I would like to draw your attention to some specific economic indicators and certain projects in Russia and abroad, if I may.
Vladimir Putin: Of course, go ahead.
Alexei Likhachev: We have analysed our performance in the past six years. We have no doubt that this year our revenues in the open part alone will exceed two trillion rubles which is almost two-fold growth over six years. The Government is helping us a little with budget investment up 60 percent but, Mr President, our tax deductions are three times higher. This is our participation in co-financing national projects.
I am very pleased to report to you that our own investment exceeds one trillion rubles for the second year running. The same will be the case this year. Our investment has grown more than eight times in the past six years.
As for our social indicators, average salary has increased by 8 percent and labour productivity is up by almost 9 percent.
Vladimir Putin: This is very good.
Alexei Likhachev: Absolutely.
We seldom talk about this, but in the past six years the workforce of the state corporation has increased by over 100,000 people, including 60,000 high-tech jobs. Also, some 60,000 Rosatom employees work abroad – half of them are Russian citizens and half are citizens of our partners, of friendly states.
Regarding international projects, first, I would like to thank you for supporting the acquisition of the Budenovskoye deposit in Kazakhstan. This makes us the second largest operator in terms of reserves and one of top three companies in the nuclear fuel cycle overall, and we retain our leadership position.
We did not leave any of the countries where we had a footprint and even slightly increased our shipments there, but our supplies to friendly countries demonstrate the biggest growth. This applies to Asia, the People’s Republic of China, the Middle East and Africa, where supplies as part of the NFC increased between 60 and 70 percent.
Vladimir Putin: People have adopted a responsible attitude, given that changing suppliers is very challenging, technology-wise.
Alexei Likhachev: Indeed, quite challenging. They have come under immense pressure, both in political and economic terms, and we know this. Of course, we do not see much potential for growth in the European market at this point. This is mostly because there is not much growth potential overall, not just because of the unfriendly attitude towards us.
Of course, Asia and the Middle East have growth potential in nuclear energy and in the energy sector in general. These regions have an appetite for our technology and our supplies. In this sense, we will expand our output and seek to consolidate our leadership.
Rosatom remains the leading builder of nuclear power plants. We have 22 projects underway, which is quite an unusual number. The NPP in Belarus is operating in pilot mode, and we expect the second unit to be completed this autumn. Interestingly, Belarus was in the top 20 in terms of nuclear energy production last year after the launch of the first power unit of its NPP – over 14 percent of nuclear power. This way, Belarus got ahead of the UK and is now at the same level as Canada, and all this thanks to just one unit we built for them. The second one will double the Republic of Belarus’ energy capability.
Vladimir Putin: Our colleagues will also acquire the corresponding competences.
Alexei Likhachev: Indeed. They want to expand into non-energy nuclear applications, such as medicine, research and materials science. President Alexander Lukashenko asked us to work with the government of Belarus to draft a project to this effect.
In Egypt, we are about to pour concrete in the foundation of the fourth plant. This is the biggest construction project, since we are building four units at once. I would like to draw your attention to Bangladesh. In autumn, we will be delivering fuel for the NPP there, so there will be one more country in the world producing nuclear power. In this sense, we maintain a very comfortable relationship with our partners in Bangladesh.
Our research is the basis of our leadership in the world market. I want to thank you on behalf of our entire industry for extending our national project on developing equipment, technology and research until 2030. We are carrying this out with the Kurchatov Institute. It includes measures to improve the performance characteristics of water-moderated power reactors, our bestsellers, small power plants, fast industrial reactors, and closing the nuclear fuel cycle. In general, we see much support from the Government and the Finance Ministry in this regard, despite some problems, and we continue offering promising trends to the market. In this sense, the national project will determine the technological landscape for at least the next 40 to 50 years. I am saying this with full responsibility.
Vladimir Putin: How is Tokamak doing?
Alexei Likhachev: Tokamak is operating at the Kurchatov Institute. We are working on the next-generation Tokamak, one with reactor technology, jointly with them. This is also part of our national project.
Vladimir Putin: Plasma engines?
Alexei Likhachev: Plasma engines too, they are also part of this national project.
What is also interesting? We continue to be involved in the ITER project, at France’s Cadarache. The project heads are showing high demand for our technologies, supplies and specialists. In general, despite the difficulties, this international project is continuing.
Mr President, your instructions for the nuclear power to move from a 20- to 25-percent share in the national energy mix is being implemented. The Government has approved the General Plan, and we are working to extend the General Plan after 2035 to 2042.
Vladimir Putin: Will we reach this indicator – 25 percent?
Alexei Likhachev: This is the goal you have set. All the relevant government directives are available, and we are working on a general plan to meet it.
What will the main point be? To build up generation a bit in the central regions, increase it markedly in the Urals, and then go to Siberia and the Russian Far East.
Both the Chelyabinsk Region and the Khabarovsk Territory are quite disposed towards promoting nuclear competences. In general, the governors understand that this provides an impetus to development in their regions both during the construction stage and, most importantly, during operation. This is all about inexpensive and stable electric power whose indicators can be calculated for dozens of years ahead.
Vladimir Putin: Of course.
Alexei Likhachev: In addition to the second point related to nuclear energy, we have one more stimulus for the development of new products, and we report to you about it on a regular basis. Just one example, Mr President: these figures are the 2030 targets included in our strategy. We included them before we knew anything about the pandemic or the landslide of sanctions, but we are approaching them as early as this year. This pressure, the current conditions have prompted an explosive growth in our deliveries of new products. Last year, we approached 800 billion [rubles] – we could not even dream of this level, but now it has become a reality.
We are moving forward, but we also keep other segments in mind. We have placed orders worth 15 trillion rubles for the next ten years, mostly with Russia-based companies.
Mr President, allow me to mention two more very interesting projects before I finish.
One has to do with the batteries for electric drives. As I reported to you, we are building a plant in Kaliningrad [for lithium-ion battery manufacturing], and we have agreed with Moscow – thanks to Mr Sergei Sobyanin [Mayor of Moscow] – to create a similar plant there. But we are getting serious about electric propulsion and are thinking about the targeted supply of a complete electric drive unit that would include an electric motor, a reduction gear unit and an inverter.
In this respect, all Russian automotive market companies are happy to have us, including GAZ, VAZ and UAZ.
Mr President, thanks to your decisions, Russia has established its largest power engineering cluster. You made the decision about Atomenergomash, Izhora and OMZ Spetsstal. Now we are fully meeting our needs and breaking Soviet records; this year we will produce five reactor pressure vessels and 18 steam generators. But we have made forays into LNG equipment and special steels. At any rate, the idea of creating the largest power engineering cluster in Russia has been implemented thanks to your support.
Mr Mikhail Murashko [Healthcare Minister] told you about our projects in nuclear medicine. I confirm everything he said. The equipment is ready to go into production; we continue to account for 30 percent of the global isotope market despite all the difficulties; we have completed the construction and adjusting and start-up procedures in the nuclear medicine section at the Dmitry Rogachev Centre. I hope that the centre will receive its first patients in autumn. Many works there have been completed ahead of schedule.
Vladimir Putin: Good.
Alexei Likhachev: A very responsible job.
Obviously, our technology and equipment do not function without people. Every year, we hire up to 2,000 young specialists. A third of them are ”gold graduates” – they have earned diplomas with honours.
Of course, it is very important to train specialists. We do not make a distinction and are working in both our corporation and in the cities where we have offices. I can report to you that our competences are also in high demand at the federal level.
We are conducting very extensive programmes within the Russia – Land of Opportunity and Sirius platforms. The National Centre for Physics and Mathematics, which you endorsed, has released its first specialists – 42 people, 40 of whom have remained in the industry.
Vladimir Putin: Together with Moscow State University, right?
Alexei Likhachev: Yes, the university is doing a lot of work. Two years have passed and the first specialists have graduated. There is a similar project, a large cluster in Snezhinsk – the Novy Snezhinsk – for universities in the Urals.
I would like to ask you to approve one project, if I may. We have a kind of sacred place – Obninsk that had the first atomic power plant and has a very strong affiliation with the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI. We would like to start work on creating a large cluster for international nuclear education there. It is very conveniently located as regards Moscow and airports. Our institutes there…
Vladimir Putin: I think this is needed. We have many partners.
Alexei Likhachev: Yes, we have many partners. In the autumn, we will convene a large conference there. In the future, it will become part of the Youth and Students Forum to be held in February – about 50 countries are sending their young representatives in the nuclear area. It is very important to work with them and influence these processes in the world, but the goal of educating our own specialists is no less important. We are very pleased that we are not only giving people competences but also shaping their civic position throughout the entire learning process – kindergarten, school, university and production. This allows us to move forward ahead of time.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you. That’s what we will do.