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S. Korea steps up effort to win Saudi Arabia’s nuclear project

South Korean president Moon Jae-in (R) shakes hands with Khalid Al-Falih, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources and chairman of Saudi Aramco, in their meeting at the Blue House in Seoul on May 4, 2018, in this photo provided by the presidential office. (Yonhap)

South Korea’s government said Monday it will step up collaboration with the local nuclear industry to boost the country’s chances to win Saudi Arabia’s nuclear project after the state-run Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) was shortlisted along with four other bidders.

Saudi Arabia selected five countries — South Korea, the United States, France, Russia and China — as preferred bidders for the kingdom’s first nuclear project, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said.

Minister Paik Un-gyu held a meeting with representatives from KEPCO and its nuclear subsidiary, the Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co., and local parts makers to discuss the export strategy.

“The competition will get tougher as all of the five tenders were selected as preferred bidders, which is seen as part of Saudi Arabia’s strategy to maximize its leverage,” Paik said after opening a nuclear export support center at KEPCO’s Seoul office. “Saudi Arabia’s nuclear project is very important for South Korea’s nuclear exports.”

The lucrative deal is the second chance for South Korea to tap into the Middle East market following a US$20 billion contract with the UAE in 2009.

The kingdom plans to build two nuclear reactors with a total generating capacity of up to 2.8 gigawatts by 2030 and is expected to pick a winner next year, the ministry said.

Saudi Arabia currently uses about 25 percent of its oil production domestically, but it aims to reduce the domestic consumption of crude oil and increase investment in nuclear and renewable energy.

South Korea has been bolstering efforts to build nuclear power plants abroad as it plans to shift from coal and nuclear power to renewable energy under President Moon Jae-in’s energy roadmap.

Source: Yonhap News