Canada now eyes India as partner in global nuclear market

December 1st, 2009 - 2:34 pm ICT by IANS  

By Gurmukh Singh
Toronto, Dec 1 (IANS) Welcoming the nuclear agreement with India, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), the country’s top nuclear regulatory body, said Monday it now views India not merely as a new market but also as a global partner in nuclear energy technology.

AECL said the agreement will renew its cooperation with India after more than three decades of the Canadian embargo on India after its 1974 nuclear test.

“The nuclear agreement means a great deal for us,” AECL vice president (marketing) Ala Alizadeh told IANS in an interview.

“Since India is operating 17 nuclear reactors that are heavy water reactors based on CANDU technology supplied by us, we have the opportunity to provide services to that fleet just like we provide services to our existing fleet in Canada and other countries.

“We can also look at life extension of the existing Indian reactors and explore opportunities to work together on new reactors, particularly for our new Advanced CANDU Reactor, the ACR-1000.”

During the past 34 years of non-cooperation, Alizadeh said India has made big strides in the nuclear energy field. “It is not only what we can do for them, but what the Indians can do for us also as they too have advanced in their nuclear technology,” he said.

Looking at India as their partner in the global nuclear energy market, Alizadeh said, “Both countries have been developing heavy water reactor technologies in parallel for over 30 years but without any interconnection. And so this is a very good opportunity simply for both Canada and India to understand what are the areas that we might be able to benefit each other.”

Asked whether his company was already in talks with India, he said they have signed a memorandum of understanding with Larson and Toubro - the leading suppliers of equipment for engineering and manufacturing for the Indian nuclear industry.

“They (L&T) are a very logical entity for us to talk with. We will be working together to develop a joint cost model for an Advanced CANDU Reactor or ACR-1000 reactor in the Indian market.

“I believe that with the extensive heavy water reactor infrastructure in India, ACR-1000 can be highly localized to offer the lowest cost advanced reactor project in India. We have also proposed R & D collaboration in areas of reactor safety and fuel development as well as working together in global nuclear markets,” the Canadian said.

Asked about the likely business volume with India, he said, “At this point it is hard to quantify the volume of business. However, we do know that this is a very good opportunity for both Canada and India. Step one is literally going to be technology exchange, and looking for mutual gains.”

Alizadeh said Canada was not late in entering the energy-hungry market. “India is just starting discussions with most of the other major countries on the implementation of nuclear cooperation initiatives. We think there is ample time to demonstrate our value and find common areas of business interest,” he said.

The AECL, which has been banking on huge doses of government support since 2006 to stay solvent, has been eyeing the Indian nuclear market eagerly as its business and sales shrank. Its CEO made many trips to India last year.

(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at gurmukh.s@ians.in)

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