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Nuclear Power Plant Project Anticipated in Saudi Arabia

The government of Saudi Arabia sent an inquiry last week on the construction of two 1.4 GW nuclear power plants. The inquiry was sent to South Korea, France, China and Russia and the project size is estimated at 12 trillion won.

According to industry sources, the Saudi government sent it to South Korea because the latter has successfully built and run the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant in the United Arab Emirates. South Korea won the contract in 2009 and built four APR1400 reactors at a cost of US$18.6 billion, half of the cost French company Areva proposed at that time.

At present, Saudi Arabia is not cooperating with IAEA nuclear inspection for Iran’s nuclear program and the United States may put the brakes on South Korea’s participation in Saudi Arabia’s nuclear power development. Saudi Arabia is yet to join the IAEA Additional Protocol, which is to inspect unreported facilities and has been signed by more than 130 countries, and this is to take the same measure once Iran goes nuclear. According to the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 of the United States, South Korea cannot export the APR1400 reactor without its consent because the reactor is based on U.S. technology.

“The United States and South Korea recently agreed to further cooperate in the industry and this can have a positive effect on the project in Saudi Arabia,” said an industry source, adding, “For example, South Korea may win the contract on condition that U.S. companies such as Westinghouse supply components and share the proceeds of the project.” In the case of Barakah, about 10 percent of the total project proceeds went to U.S. companies.

Once South Korea wins the project based on collaboration with the United States, both the United States and South Korea can take a dominant position in the market where Russia already lost the trust of the international community and France’s construction cost amounts to at least 10 trillion won per nuclear power plant.

Source: Business Korea