UPDATE 1-Hungarian parliament approves life extension of Paks nuclear power plant

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BUDAPEST, Dec 7 (Reuters) – Hungary’s parliament on Wednesday approved extending the life of four Russian reactors at the Paks nuclear power plant, giving the go-ahead to government plans to operate them for up to 20 more years .

The government announced in June that Hungary was seeking to extend the life of the reactors, and in September the country asked the European Union to approve the plan.

Parliament approved the legislation presented by Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjen with 170 votes in favor, eight votes against and one abstention.

With crude and gas prices soaring due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and concerns over energy supplies, several countries are considering extending the life of their nuclear power plants or building new reactors.

Hungary also plans to expand its nuclear power plant in Paks, with Russia’s Rosatom building two VVER reactors with a capacity of 1.2 gigawatts each, in addition to the four reactors currently in operation.

The project, which has been seriously delayed, was awarded in 2014 without a call for tenders to Rosatom. This has often been cited as a sign of warm ties between Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Paks plant currently has four small Russian-made VVER 440 reactors with a combined capacity of about 2,000 megawatts. They began operating between 1982 and 1987 and are expected to retire in 2032-2037. (Reporting by Anita Komuves Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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