Sunday, December 27, 2009

South Korea to Build First Nuclear Reactors in UAE

Via NYTimes -

The United Arab Emirates said Sunday that it had chosen a South Korean-led consortium for a $20 billion contract to create the first nuclear power reactors in the Middle East.

The Korean consortium beat out a General Electric-Hitachi team and a French consortium that included √Člectricit√© de France and Areva.

The deal, one of the largest in the energy sector this year, comes amid a resurgence of nuclear power projects and had involved high-profile lobbying from officials including the presidents Nicolas Sarkozy of France and Lee Myung-bak of South Korea.

The deal went forward after the U.A.E. signed an agreement with Washington on Dec. 17 to alleviate proliferation concerns. The Arab country, a federation of seven Gulf principalities, agreed in that protocol that it would not enrich uranium or reprocess spent fuel.

After a decade of strong growth, the U.A.E., a leading oil producer, is seeking to modernize its utilities sector and diversify its energy sources. It imports most of the natural gas that it burns to generate electricity and using its own oil would reduce amounts available for export.

Under the deal announced in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, Korea Electric Power will lead a group that includes Westinghouse, the American subsidiary of Toshiba, in designing, building and helping to operate four 1,400-megawatt nuclear power plants for the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation. The first of the third-generation units is supposed to be online in 2017, with the others providing electricity to the grid by 2020.

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