UPDATE : 2019.7.19 FRI 15:18
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S. Korea zeroes in on Saudi Arabia nuclear power deal

South Korea's energy ministry said Wednesday it will make concerted efforts with the local nuclear industry and related associations to submit a winning proposal for Saudi Arabia's first nuclear power project, which is expected to select a contractor by the end of this year.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy held a meeting with the two state utility firms -- the Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) and the Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. (KHNP) -- as well as nuclear institutes and trade organizations to set up an effective strategy to secure the crucial deal.

Saudi Arabia, the world's largest crude exporter, has received offers from five nations, including South Korea, to build two nuclear reactors as part of its broader plan to expand its proportion of non-fossil based energy.

The kingdom is expected to shortlist two to three preferred bidders by April and plans to select a winner by the end of this year, according to local reports.

"We need to submit a comprehensive package, as the nuclear project is selected based on various factors, including the nuclear reactor's economic efficiency and technical safety, as well as economic cooperation (with Saudi Arabia)," Energy minister Paik Un-gyu said during the meeting. "The government should come up with a systematic approach by utilizing all possible resources by the end of this year."

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

KEPCO formed a consortium with Emirates Nuclear Energy Corp. (ENEC) to build four Korean-designed APR-1500 pressurized water reactors in Barakah, one of which is scheduled to begin operations in the first half of this year.

As part of efforts to support overseas projects, Paik is scheduled to visit the UAE from Feb. 24-26 and will arrange a trip to Saudi Arabia, according to his office.

His trip comes after Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, chairman of the Executive Affairs Authority of Abu Dhabi, visited Seoul last month to discuss ways to step up nuclear cooperation and successfully wrap up the UAE's nuclear project.

Hwi Won  edt@koeapost.com

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