Sergey Kirienko, director general of Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom, has dismissed as speculation press reports that the corporation plans to sell a 49% stake in the project company for Turkey’s Akkuyu NPP. He told reporters, "We haven’t changed anything. There’s no news."

The Intergovernmental Russian-Turkish agreement on construction of the NPP near the port of Mersin was signed in May 2010 for the construction of four 1200MWe Gidropress-designed AES-2006 VVER pressurized water reactors at an estimated cost of $22bn. Russia has already invested $3bn in preparatory work. The project is being financed by Russia under a build-own-operate model. The plant is scheduled to start operations in 2023 – the centenary of the founding of the Republic of Turkey.

The Agreement provides that the share of foreign investors in the capital of project company JSC Akkuyu Nuclear" can be up to 49%. Currently the company is wholly Russian owned, the Rosatom’s Rusatom Overseas holding 74.92% of the shares. The Turkish Anadolu news agency and Reuters said Turkish construction firm Cengiz Insaat is in talks about buying the shares.

Turkish students are already undergoing training in Russia as future operators and managers of the plant. However, the crisis in Russian-Turkish relations has put the project in doubt, with contradictory reports about the current status of the project. In December, Turkish energy officials said Rosatom had stopped construction work but President Vladimir Putin subsequently said the decision on the future of the plant would be purely commercial.

Energy Minister Berat Albayrak recently visited the nuclear plant, where he was briefed by the plant’s General Manager Fuad Akhundov and its construction manager, Dmitriy Tveritinov. Earlier in April Turkey’s official state gazette said the Council of Ministers had ordered the acquisition of land enabling construction of a 380kV transmission line for the plant. State transmission grid operator TEIAS is authorised to demand the sale of land for a 240km line that is to run in three sections – Akkuyu NPP-Ermenek HES, Akkuyu NPP-Konya and Akkuyu NPP-Seydisehir. At Konya, the line will be connected to TEIAS’s existing transmission grid.

In June last year, JSC Akkuyu NPP, the Russian-owned company responsible for what will be Turkey’s first nuclear power plant, was awarded a preliminary licence, enabling the company to start investment and permitting procedures for the project.