Cablegate: Brazil: Response to Civil Nuclear Working Group Request For
R 240950Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 3168
INFO USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA
AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO
AMCONSUL SAO PAULO
UNCLAS BRASILIA 001660
DOC PASS MAS/ITA/USDOC Sarah Lopp
DOC PASS MAC/ITA/USDOC MCameron ADriscoll
STATE FOR T Marc Humphrey
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ENRG TRGY BEXP BTIO
SUBJECT: BRAZIL: RESPONSE TO CIVIL NUCLEAR WORKING GROUP REQUEST FOR
PLANS TO EXPAND NUCLEAR ENERGY
REF: STATE 127468
1. THIS IS A RESPONSE TO ACTION REQUEST: Please see para 3.
2. SUMMARY. Due to its overwhelming dependence on hydro power and
growing electricity demand, Brazil is looking to diversify its
energy matrix and increase capacity with plans that include
expansion of its civil nuclear program. The program anticipates
completing construction of its third nuclear reactor - Angra III as
well as building 4-6 more in the next twenty years. Scope of
opportunities for U.S. companies will depend upon Brazil's strategy
for building and maintaining its portfolio of nuclear reactors.
There will be fewer opportunities if Brazil decides to build on its
two latest with German technology (now jointly owned by French
company, Areva) based reactors. Self-sufficiency continues to be of
great concern to Brazil. This view will impact Brazil's selection
of a partner for its new reactors. Partners willing to transfer
technology, train a wholly Brazilian work force, and provide other
incentives like fuel enrichment and efficient uranium mining
technology, would have a competitive edge. Financing options and
job creation will also be important factors. France portends to be
the biggest competitive threat at this point. END SUMMARY
3. RESPONSES TO CIVIL NUCLEAR SECTOR REPORTING REQUESTS.
Overview of Civil Nuclear Power Program
-- Are there any plans to expand your country's civil nuclear power
program (including any associated activities such as uranium mining,
fuel supply, reactor construction, and spent fuel management)?
Yes - the Government of Brazil (GoB) is expanding its nuclear power
program in the areas of nuclear reactors, uranium mining, fuel
supply, and spent fuel management.
Nuclear reactors: Brazil reportedly plans to build 4-6 reactors by
2030 with first units expected to begin operations in the 2017-2018
timeframe. Currently, Brazil has two reactors - Angra I (built by
Westinghouse of the U.S.) and Angra II (built by Siemens/KWU of
Germany); they provide about 2.5% of the country's electricity.
Construction is expected to restart on the third reactor, Angra III,
with a completion date (recently postponed by one year due to
licensing issues) of 2015.
Uranium mining: Brazil fully controls its uranium industry through
state-owned Industrias Nucleares do Brasil (INB). With the world's
sixth largest uranium reserve of 500,000 tons, Brazil has enough to
run 6 reactors for 250 years. Brazil expects to export surplus
uranium. Its first priority, however, is to secure enough supplies
for domestic use. Brazil plans to double its mining production by
2012. There are opportunities for U.S. business to provide services
and technology for more efficient mining.
Fuel supply: Today, Brazil relies partly on foreign companies like
Urenco (headquartered in the U.K.) to enrich uranium for its civil
nuclear reactors. Brazil's Resende nuclear fuel facility in the
State of Rio de Janeiro is expected to produce 20-30 tons of
enriched uranium per year, or 60% of the country's needs. Resende is
expected to fulfill all of Brazil's enriched uranium needs once the
facility is fully operational.
Spent fuel management: Spent fuel is currently stored in multiple
temporary sites. As part of Brazil's long term strategy for waste
storage, Brazil's National Commission on Nuclear Energy (CNEN) will
launch a new company to handle waste management and plans to begin
construction of a medium- and low-level waste reprocessing facility
in 2014. An above ground repository is expected to be built by
-- For expanding nuclear power programs, describe your country's
underlying motivations (e.g., current or anticipated power
shortages, energy security, or other industrial uses, such as
Brazil's current energy matrix is dominated by hydro power which
generates 84% of the country's electricity. A growing economy and
an inability to meet future demand from hydro power has prompted
Brazil's plan to significantly increase its electricity generation
capabilities. Due to Brazil's large supply of uranium, the
Government of Brazil views nuclear energy as a viable alternative
energy source for the country's energy matrix.
-- If there are plans to expand nuclear power, describe the
government's role in the financing of its civil nuclear sector. For
example, does the government provide subsidies, tax breaks, loan
guarantees, or other financial incentives? Are some or all nuclear
power plants state-owned and operated? Would they seek financing
from international investment banks and organizations or consortium
State-owned Eletronuclear currently operates Angra I and Angra II
plants and will be responsible for Angra III as well. Financing of
Angra III is estimated at USD 1.8 billion, and the Brazilian
government is still seeking a strategic partner to assist in
financing the reactor. BNDES, Brazil's development bank, is expected
to play a significant role.
-- Describe your country's nuclear regulatory authority. Is it
independent of the agency promoting nuclear power and/or operating
nuclear power plants? What are its inspection/enforcement powers?
How large is it (i.e., how many people does it employ)? Are there
plans to expand it?
CNEN currently plays the joint role of regulator and promoter. It
is independent of nuclear power plant operations which are run by
the state-owned Eletronuclear. CNEN has the authority to pass
regulations, approve licenses, inspect nuclear installations, and to
enforce its policies.
CNEN President Odair Dias Gongalves has confirmed that the GoB has
decided to create a separate regulatory agency. All 400 of CNEN's
regulatory personnel will be transferred to the new agency which
will report directly to the Ministry of Science and Technology.
CNEN will maintain the rest of its 2,300 staff, and will continue to
oversee the state-owned companies which handle uranium mining and
enrichment and nuclear power generation. Additionally, Brazil plans
to create two additional state-owned companies under CNEN which will
focus on nuclear and radioactive waste management as well as
-- Does your country have a domestic nuclear liability law? If so,
please summarize its major elements. In particular, is there a
minimum level of liability coverage required for operators? If your
country is not party to an international liability regime, is there
any consideration being given to joining one? If so, which
international liability regime (Vienna Convention, Paris Convention,
Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage) is
Brazil has been a signatory of the Convention on Civil Liability for
Nuclear Damage (Vienna Convention) since 1993.
-- Is the manufacturing base in your country (including high-tech
components and heavy industry) involved in nuclear-related products
or services? Does it seem likely that any components or contracting
services for new plants could be sourced locally, or would the
majority of these need to be imported?
Through technology transfer from previous nuclear plant
constructions and a home-grown knowledge base, Brazil has some
capability to manufacture certain components and assemble fuel
elements. Angra III (under construction) follows the German model-
mainly because Brazil purchased the reactor parts in the 1970s and
have had them sitting in storage for over 30 years. Brazil appears
to have the domestic manufacturing base and knowledge to finish
construction of Angra III. For the new plants, however, it is not
clear what model Brazil will follow and or whether they will require
an update of their manufacturing/knowledge base including technology
transfer and foreign sourcing.
Brazil's Energy Minister and Deputy Ministers have expressed their
interest on multiple occasions in sourcing from the United States -
noting Westinghouse's involvement with the first of the two plants
currently in service. Responding to Brazilian government interest,
DOE has invited Brazil to form a civilian nuclear working group to
discuss opportunities for future cooperation - a very promising area
both in policy terms and commercially.
-- How extensive is your country's nuclear-trained workforce? Does
your country have a significant engineering, technician, and
construction base that could be readily converted into a nuclear
workforce (e.g., engineers, high precision manufacturing, high
quality construction, robust quality assurance programs)? Will an
expansion of civil nuclear power require a significant foreign
workforce? Are programs in place, or being developed, for training
of domestic personnel (e.g., in skilled trades and nuclear
Brazil has decades of experience with civil nuclear power - its
first nuclear power reactor became operational in 1985. GoB has
historically pushed for self-reliance in building and running its
civil nuclear program. Brazil has made headway towards
self-sufficiency in operating its two nuclear reactors and the
construction of the third (Angra III).
If Brazil chooses to continue with its current technology, as
showcased by Angra II and III, for its additional plants, the need
for foreign assistance for goods and services would be lower
compared to a different, more modern technology offering.
Currently, Brazil is looking at Westinghouse, Atomenergoprom
(Russia), and Areva (ex-Siemens, now a French company) as potential
suppliers for its future projects.
Opportunities for U.S. Industry
-- Does your country have any current or anticipated nuclear-related
tenders? If so, please describe the tender/selection process for
new contracts, its timing, and indicate any U.S. firms considering
Yes, the aforementioned 4-6 reactors plus possible development of
uranium export industry. As yet, timing is uncertain.
Westinghouse is expected to bid. General Electric (GE) may bid if
bid specifications do not preclude GE's Boiling Water Reactor (BWR)
technology. Brazil's current nuclear reactors are all Pressurized
Water Reactors (PWR).
Bid selection process is not always transparent in Brazil. Once
authorized, Eletronuclear would send the international tender
announcement for dissemination. By law, the Brazilian Government
may not make a distinction between domestic and foreign-owned
companies. However, in case of a tie in the tendering process, the
law's implementation regulations give preference to goods and
services supplied by Brazilian firms.
Brazil is not a signatory of the WTO multilateral Agreement on
Government Procurement, and therefore, does not necessarily use the
same procedures as other signatories. Most government procurement
processes are open to international competition, either through
direct bidding, consortia, or imports. However, many of the larger
bids can become very political and could lead to unilateral single
source procurement decisions.
-- What nuclear sector opportunities do you foresee for U.S.
industry (e.g., feasibility studies or other consulting services,
plant construction management, reactor sales, fuel cycle service
provision, plant operations, waste management, or logistics)?
All of the above.
-- What are the primary companies (domestic and foreign) involved in
(or considering involvement in) your country's civil nuclear sector?
Please include utilities, plant operators, fuel cycle service
providers, technology vendors, and major construction or consulting
Westinghouse (U.S.), Atomenergoprom (Russia), and Areva (France) are
the primary companies expected to bid as technology vendors and
-- Are there other nuclear supplier countries engaging your country
on its civil nuclear power program? Please provide details wherever
possible, including on any formal or potential agreements such as
MOUs, legal frameworks on nuclear commerce, or information exchange
Brazil and France are expected to sign a co-operation agreement on
nuclear defense and energy on December 23 2008. France may to be
the single biggest competitor to U.S. nuclear commercial interests
in this area.
In March 2008, Brazil and Argentina announced the formation of a
bilateral Nuclear Energy Commission (COBEN), and stated their
intention to create a joint state company (EBEN) that will develop
compact nuclear reactors and enrich uranium.
In May 1996, Brazil and Canada signed a nuclear cooperation
agreement. The Agreement scope includes the supply of information,
including technology; the supply of nuclear material and equipment;
technical training; rendering of technical assistance and services;
and the exploration for and development of uranium resources.
Russia and Brazil are drawing closer on the issue of civilian
nuclear power technology transfer, especially in the exploration and
production of uranium.
-- Are there any political considerations your country may take into
account when choosing to cooperate with competing nuclear supplier
As demonstrated by recent rhetoric by Brazil asserting its political
autonomy from the United States, Brazil may lean towards non-U.S.
technology as a show of independence. However, more pragmatic
aspects like technology transfer, financing, long term
self-sufficiency and job creation are expected to take precedence.