Argentina’s planning minister Julio De Vido has signed seven contracts worth a total of US$440m with Canadian firm Candu Energy, a subsidiary of SNC-Lavalin Nuclear Inc, and Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd to extend the life of the 648 MW Embalse nuclear plant. The contracts with Candu were signed by Julio De Vido, Argentina’s president Cristina Fern├índez, and the national nuclear power company NA-SA. The contracts cover technology and information transfer which will help the future development of nuclear plants within Argentina.

AECL will begin the work with Nucleoelectrica Argentina Sociedad Anonima SA (NA-SA), with direct support from SNC-Lavalin until the currently ongoing sale of AECL’s Candu reactor division to Candu Energy closes. After that, Candu will take over the rest of the contract. AECL and SNC-Lavalin will provide key technologies and tools as well as engineering and supply for plant upgrades. NASA will oversee on-site work. The retubing and refurbishment is expected to extend the reactor’s life by 25 to 30 years.

Argentina has two nuclear plants in operation, Embalse and Atucha I. Atucha II is under construction and due to come online by end-2011, while a fourth plant, Atucha III, is slated for completion in 2016. Nuclear power plants provide around 7% of Argentina’s total generation capacity.