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Korea, UAE to cooperate to win Saudi nuclear project

By Yoon Ja-young

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has shown full satisfaction with nuclear reactors currently being built there by Korean companies and suggested that Korea and the UAE cooperate to jointly win nuclear power projects in other countries, Korea’s energy minister said Tuesday.

Trade, Industry, and Energy Minister Paik Un-gyu and Khaldoon Khalifa Al-Mubarak, chairman of the Executive Affairs Authority of Abu Dhabi, had a breakfast meeting in downtown Seoul. They discussed how the two governments should cooperate for successful completion and operation of the nuclear power plant.

Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) is currently building the UAE’s first nuclear power plant in Barakah in a consortium with the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corp. (ENEC), following a deal reached in 2009. One of the four nuclear reactors in the power plant will be completed this year.

In a media briefing following the meeting, Paik said that the UAE envoy highly evaluated the nuclear power plant currently being built in the UAE by Korea.

“Chairman Al-Mubarak highly evaluated the overall construction, showing satisfaction about Korean constructors and everything going ‘on budget, on time.’ He said that he was recommending Korea to other countries for nuclear construction, and I thanked him for promoting Korea’s nuclear reactors,” Paik said.

Al-Mubarak has been in Korea since Monday as a special envoy of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, meeting National Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun as well as GS Group Chairman Huh Chang-soo and SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won. The two conglomerates are closely related with the Middle East country for energy and construction.

He also met Im Jong-seok, the presidential chief of staff who visited the United Arab Emirates as a special envoy of President Moon Jae-in last December. Al-Mubarak was accompanying the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi when he met Im. The main opposition Liberty Korea Party has been raising speculation that Im’s sudden visit is to resolve the UAE’s concern about President Moon’s nuclear-free policy. The current administration plans to increase the ratio of renewable energy instead of nuclear and coal-fired energy.

Paik negated such speculation by the opposition party, stressing the UAE’s satisfaction with Korean nuclear reactors.

“Chairman Al-Mubarak said that it was an excellent decision to choose Korea back in 2009,” Paik said, adding that the two agreed on a future-oriented partnership between the two countries.

“We agreed that it should last for the next 100 years since the nuclear reactor should be operated for the next 60 years.”

The two countries also agreed that they should cooperate to win nuclear orders in other countries, and Al-Mubarak could help Korea win order in Saudi Arabia, according to Paik. They would also expand ties to renewable energies such as solar energy from nuclear energy. Korea and the UAE signed an MOU to cooperate to win orders in other countries back in 2009.

“Saudi Arabia and UAE are close to each other, like brothers. Chairman Al-Mubarak gave us concrete advice on how to advance into Saudi Arabia, and we also discussed cooperation in not only nuclear reactors but also solar cells,” the minister said.

He said that Korea, which has advanced technology in solar modules, could be good partner for UAE which is engaged in the solar energy business in Saudi Arabia.

“Korea has global competitiveness in solar energy. The two countries can cooperate in this,” he added.

Source: The Korea Times

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