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Russia to build nuclear power plant in Argentina

Argentina continues to seek much-needed infrastructure investment.

Russia to build nuclear power plant in Argentina

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina 

Argentina reached a preliminary agreement Thursday with a Russian state-owned company for building a nuclear power plant in the South American country.

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner announced the deal during a televised press conference from Moscow after meeting with her Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

Russia’s Rosatom, a global leader in nuclear power, agreed to partner with Nucleoelectrica Argentina, its equivalent in Buenos Aires, on preparing for the 1,200 megawatt project.

Fernandez de Kirchner said the country’s sixth nuclear power plant will help reduce the burning of fossil fuels for electricity.

“It’s cheap, safe and is not subject to international market and geopolitical fluctuations,” she said.

Argentina is seeking investment from Russia and other developing nations as two debt defaults since 2001 and unorthodox economic policies keep away European and U.S. investors. China agreed earlier this year to build an 800 megawatt nuclear power plant in Argentina, part of a $20 billion infrastructure investment.

The additional capacity from the China and Russian-build plants and another under construction will save the nation $20 billion in 20 years by substituting purchases of diesel and other fossil fuels for power plants, according to the Argentine Planning Ministry, which oversees energy affairs.

Argentina gets about 50 percent of its power from natural gas and oil derivatives that have declined in production by 20 percent in the past decade, leading to a rise in costlier imports. Another 40 percent of its power comes from hydro, 7 percent from nuclear and the rest from wind and solar parks, according to the Argentine Association of Electric Energy Generators, an industry group.

Argentina and Russia also agreed to work together on scientific studies for the development of uranium fuel for nuclear power plants in Argentina as well as in reactors the country has sold to Algeria, Australia and Egypt.

Rosatom and Nucleoelectrica will also consider a partnership for building nuclear power plants in other countries, with a focus on Africa and Latin America, the Planning Ministry said.

Argentina plans to invest $31 billion between 2015 and 2025 on building three nuclear power plants and extending the useful life of three others now in operation, according to the ministry.

The country invested $11 billion between 2003 and 2014 in the nuclear power sector.

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