Jordan to start building first nuclear reactor in 2013

Middle East country has pre-approved three bidders to provide technology for the $4.5bn plant
Jordan to start building first nuclear reactor in 2013
Jordan is turning to nuclear power to meet rising domestic electricity demand.
By Bloomberg
Thu 22 Dec 2011 05:58 PM

Jordan will select the likely builder of its first nuclear reactor in March and plans to start construction of the facility in 2013, said Khalid Touqan, the chairman of the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission.

The government has pre-approved three bidders to provide technology for the $4.5bn plant: Russia’s ZAO Atomstroyexport, Canada’s SNC-Lavalin International Inc., and Atmea, a Paris-based joint venture between France’s Areva SA and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd of Japan.

“We will fine tune the offers in February, and by the second part of March, we will choose the preferred bidder,” Touqan said today in a telephone interview from the Jordanian capital Amman. Jordan expects to confirm its choice of builder by the end of 2012 and begin the project the following year, he said.

The Middle East country, which relies mostly on imported energy, is turning to nuclear power to meet rising domestic electricity demand. The government plans to build at least one reactor by 2019, in northern Jordan, and has signed nuclear cooperation agreements with 12 countries. It estimates the nation to contain 70,000 metric tons of uranium deposits.

Jordanian authorities opened offers from the three pre- selected bidders on Dec 4 and will hold final negotiations with them at the beginning of January, Touqan said. Jordan is also seeking bidders to operate and invest in the reactor.

 “In parallel to the selection of the technology provider, we are expecting to receive proposals from the operators, investors, by March 1,” he said. GDF Suez SA, Rosatom Corp., Datang International Power Generation Co. and Kansai Electric Power Co. are bidders for this part of the project.

Jordan, with one of the smallest economies in the Middle East, is incurring losses from disruptions in its supply of natural gas from Egypt, where the pipeline network has been damaged by 10 sabotage attacks this year, Touqan said. Jordanian power stations have resorted to using more expensive fuels such as diesel instead of Egyptian gas. The kingdom also plans to build a terminal to import liquefied natural gas.

“Jordan has to come out of the total reliance on Egyptian gas because of all these problems, and even the LNG plan will take 24 months,” Touqan said. “So we have to pursue nuclear energy.”

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