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Tue 14 Dec 2010 08:44 PM

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Jordan seeking bids for one or two nuclear plants

Jordan to sign nuclear cooperation accords with Italy, Turkey and Romania within two months

Jordan seeking bids for one or two nuclear plants
ATOMIC ENERGY: Jordan has already signed nuclear cooperation with Argentina, Canada, China, France, Japan, Russia, South Korea, Spain and the UK (Bloomberg Images)

Jordan will seek proposals in early January for the construction and operation of as many as two nuclear power plants, the chairman of the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission said.

Jordan, a Middle Eastern ally of the US, will announce results of the proposals in March, Khalid Touqan said in an interview during a workshop in Amman on Tuesday. It plans in addition to sign nuclear cooperation accords with Italy, Turkey and Romania within two months.

He said: “We are also in negotiations for similar agreements with the US and the Czech Republic.”

Jordan has already signed nuclear cooperation agreements with Argentina, Canada, China, France, Japan, Russia, South Korea, Spain and the UK. It plans to build a reactor by 2019.

Touqan’s commission has preselected possible technologies from Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd, Russia’s ZAO Atomstroyexport and Paris based Atmea, a venture between France’s Areva and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd of Japan.

Touqan said: “Jordan plans two separate calls for proposals in the first week of January, for the construction and operation of at least one nuclear reactor, and maybe two.”

The first call for proposals will be for the three groups of pre-selected companies to build the reactor. The second will be to choose an operator, he said. The operator will also own about 50 percent of the reactor. GDF Suez of France and companies from Russia and Canada have expressed interest, Touqan said.

Jordan plans to build its first reactor in Majdal, an area about 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of Amman. He said, the commission chose Majdal partly because a site it considered initially in southern Jordan would have proven more expensive.

Touqan said, Suez-Tractebel, a Brussels based unit of GDF Suez, is evaluating the preferred site.

Areva, the world’s largest maker of reactors, signed agreements with Jordan earlier this year for the protection of planned nuclear installations and for the exploration and mining of uranium.

Jordan estimates it has 70,000 tons of uranium deposits, based on studies the National Resources Authority made in the 1990s. Touqan said, Areva will announce in February the results of its own studies of uranium reserves.

The kingdom, which consists mostly of desert and relies almost entirely on imports for its energy needs, is turning to nuclear power to meet increasing electricity demand.

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