September 12, 2019 / 2:30 PM / in 10 months

Slovakia's Slovenske Elektrarne say Mochovce plant expansion on track despite regulator's demands

BRATISLAVA, Sept 12 (Reuters) - Slovak utility Slovenske Elektrarne does not expect technical corrections required by the country’s nuclear regulator to further delay the planned launch of new units at its Mochovce nuclear power plant, a spokesman said on Thursday.

The project, already hampered by several cost increases and delays, needs to remove deficiencies on first of two new 470 megawatt units before it is allowed to start the process of loading nuclear fuel into the reactor, the regulator said after final evaluation of the unit’s hot hydrotest this month.

In the test that included heating and pressurizing the reactor and assessed the cooling circuit and safety systems for reactor core cooling, the regulator found a “large number of seemingly unrelated minor deficiencies that could have a synergic effect, potentially causing complications during commissioning of the unit.”

Slovenske Elektrarne did not estimate on Thursday how long the corrections will take but said they will not have a significant impact on the schedule and the budget — currently seen at 5.4 billion euros ($5.91 billion).

Unit 3 is now expected to be technically ready for fuel loading in autumn 2019, and actual fuel loading around February 2020. Unit 4 will follow a year from that.

The expansion of Mochovce was originally planned for launch in 2012 at a cost of 2.8 billion euros.

The Slovak state owns 34 percent of Slovenske Elektrarne, with Slovak Power Holding, a joint venture between Italy’s Enel and Czech energy group EPH, owning the remainder.

EPH has the option to buy out Enel once the expansion is Mochovce is complete. ($1 = 0.9137 euros) (Reporting By Tatiana Jancarikova; Editing by David Gregorio)

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