Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, has received offers from five countries, including South Korea, to build two nuclear reactors as part of its broader plan to expand its share of non-fossil energy.
Saudi Arabia is expected to pre-select two to three preferred bidders by April and plans to pick the winner by the end of this year, according to local reports.
The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy of South Korea announced on February that it will make concerted efforts with the local nuclear industry and related associations to present a winning proposal for the first project of Saudi Arabian nuclear power, which is expected to choose a contractor by the end of this year.
The ministry has held a meeting with two state-owned utilities firms – the South Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) and the South Korea Nuclear and Hydraulic Power Corporation (KHNP) – as well as with the nuclear institutes and commercial organizations, to develop an efficient strategy in order to achieve the crucial agreement.
It is necessary to present a comprehensive package, since the nuclear project is selected based on various factors, such as economic efficiency and technical safety of the nuclear reactor, as well as economic cooperation with Saudi Arabia, said Energy Minister Paik Un-gyu , during the meeting. He said the government should propose a systematic approach by the end of this year, using all possible resources.
The lucrative agreement is a second chance for South Korea to enter the Middle East market, following a $ 20 billion contract with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2009.
KEPCO formed a consortium with the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) to build four APF-1500 pressurized water reactors in Baraka, designed by South Korea, one of which is estimated to start operations in the first half of this year.
As part of efforts to support projects abroad, Paik plans to visit the UAE from February 24-26 and arrange a trip to Saudi Arabia, according to his office.