Saudi Arabia to launch nuclear power tender in October

nuke 12923 pixabayIn the longer-term, Saudi Arabia is considering building 17.6 GW of nuclear capacity by 2032, KACARE says on its website. (Image source: 12923/Pixabay)Saudi Arabia is expected to launch a tender process for its first nuclear reactors as early as next month and will reach out to potential vendors from countries including South Korea, France and China, industry sources said

The world’s top oil exporter wants to start construction next year on two plants with a total capacity of up to 2.8 GW, three industry sources said, as it follows the UAE in seeking atomic energy. This will make it the second country in the Middle East to tap nuclear power as a way to diversify its energy supply for its 32mn population. The UAE’s first plant is expected to come online next year after delays.

“Competition will be fierce,” an industry source said, adding that Saudi Arabia was expected to send a request for information (RFI) to suppliers in October, marking the official start of the tender process following feasibility studies. The kingdom will also provide more detail on the plans at the general conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations nuclear watchdog, in Vienna this month, the sources said.

The plants are a part of long-standing plans to diversify the OPEC member’s energy supply and has received extra momentum as part of its Vision 2030.

The government agency tasked with the nuclear plans, The King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE), did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In the longer-term, Saudi Arabia is considering building 17.6 GW of nuclear capacity by 2032, KACARE says on its website.

A South Korea-based industry source with direct knowledge of the matter confirmed that Riyadh was expected to issue the RFI for the first two plants in October to five potential bidders - South Korea, China, France, Russia and Japan.

The target is to pour the first concrete of reactor casing in 2018, a source in Saudi Arabia familiar with the plans said, although nuclear construction timelines frequently face delays.

France has spent several years trying to make its case for selling its reactors to the kingdom.

A French minister and chief executives of French utility EDF and reactor builder Areva visited the kingdom in 2013 while a Saudi delegation led by KACARE chief Hashim bin Abdullah Yamani went to Paris in July to discuss Riyadh’s atomic plans.

KACARE also discussed feasibility studies to build the first two reactors in the kingdom with Chinese officials in Beijing in August. Russia’s state-owned nuclear company Rosatom has also been in talks with KACARE about Saudi Arabia’s atomic ambitions.

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