Korea has 'great interest' in Saudi nuclear deals bid

Energy minister gives firmest sign yet that Asian economy will bid for multibillion-dollar deals

South Korea has offered its firmest sign yet that it will line up a bid to build nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia, one year after winning a landmark $20bn deal in the UAE.

"We have great interest in the nuclear power plants projects in Saudi Arabia," South Korea's vice minister for trade and energy, Park Young June, told Arabian Business on the sidelines of the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi.

A South Korean consortium, led by state-run utility KEPCO, beat off highly-fancied French and US bids to win a four-reactor contract in the UAE in December 2009.

Recent months have seen increased Saudi activity on the nuclear front as the country faces up to an eight percent annual rise in energy consumption.

In October, the kingdom received pre-feasibility studies for a full nuclear power programme from US and UK companies.

Saudi Arabia is also holding talks with international firms to build its first atomic and renewable energy city.

The UAE deal was the first time that Korea had exported nuclear technology abroad. Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) has announced that the first of the four reactors is scheduled to come online in 2017.

"The two countries have been maintaining a close partnership in order to build the nuclear reactors in the most safe, punctual and economically  viable way," Park said.

"This afternoon I had the chance to meet Mr Khaldoon [Al Mubarak, the chairman of ENEC] - he also expressed his satisfaction about the progress we are making between our two nations."

Elsewhere, South Korea has also signed a deal to export a nuclear research reactor to Jordan, but it has not participated in the bidding for commercial reactors in the Middle Eastern nation.


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