MINSK, Jan. 25, 2011 (Xinhua News Agency) -- Belarus and Russia have agreed to cooperate in the construction of a Belarusian nuclear power plant, the head of Russia's nuclear agency, Rosatom, said here Tuesday.
Contractors will begin excavation work for the foundation of the nuclear power plant in September 2011 and construction of the first unit will be completed in 2017, Rosatom General Director Sergei Kiriyenko said during a meeting with Belarusian First Vice Premier Vladimir Semashko.
Kiriyenko said the project would cost 6 to 7 billion U.S. dollars and a loan agreement between Russia and Belarus could be signed in June 2011.
During the meeting, Semashko said Belarus and Russia agreed on the method of financing the nuclear plant.
However, a package of intergovernmental agreements on cooperation in building the nuclear power plant and the parallel operation of power systems will be signed in late February or early March this year.
"In the framework of the intergovernmental agreement on the parallel operation of power systems, a power sale joint venture will be created in June 2011," Semashko said.
Lithuania, an active opponent of nuclear power plant construction in Belarus, was unhappy with the placement of the construction site, which is less than 50 km from its capital Vilnius.
Some experts also pointed out the questionable economic viability of nuclear power plants as nuclear power is supported by direct and indirect subsidies from state budgets and does not make profit.