NPCIL-Westinghouse deal: Still many differences to resolve

US energy company Westinghouse’s move to sell six nuclear reactors to India could take more time to fructify, as the two sides are still to resolve differences over power price to India’s liability law and the layout of the proposed nuclear power plant.

Westinghouse and Nuclear Power Corporation of India were expected to sign the deal during the just concluded visit of US President Donald Trump. It didn’t happen as they couldn’t narrow down differences, people in the know said.

The negotiations are over building six AP1000 reactors. ET has learnt that India wants to model the plant on a facility in the US and not on plants in China.

A longstanding irritant has been the liability law, which requires the costs of any accident to be channelled to the reactor supplier.

India has made clear that there was no going back on the 2010 Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage law that foreign governments and vendors say leaves open the possibility of lawsuits against reactor suppliers for nuclear accidents.

The Modi government has tried to limit the impact of that law by setting up an insurance fund for potential victims of a nuclear accident. A ?1,500 crore pool is likely to be created with participation from General Insurance Corporation of India and other state-owned general insurance companies. Reactor suppliers could buy cover from this entity. But Westinghouse may be seeking a bigger insurance pool.

Earlier this month, representatives from US energy and commerce departments, Westinghouse, the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum and the Nuclear Energy Institute were in India for talks with government officials as part of a commercial mission to promote nuclear exports to India.

While an agreement with Westinghouse has been delayed, the two sides are reviving talks for jointly manufacturing small reactors for third country exports.

ET News
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