South Korean Trade Minister Sung Yun-mo is slated to leave for the United Arab Emirates on Saturday to discuss further partnerships with his counterparts in the energy sector as a follow-up to the summit in March of last year. The minister is also slated to express the government’s strong willingness to support the maintenance of the Barakah nuclear power plant should a Korean bidder win, ministry officials said Wednesday.
During his stay, the minister, accompanied by CEOs of the Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power and Kepco Plant Service & Engineering, plans to meet with the management of the state-owned Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, the owner of the Barakah nuclear power plant.
Sung is expected to express the government’s strong willingness to support a Korean bidder for the maintenance of the Barakah nuclear power plant, which is the UAE’s first nuclear power station, according to the officials.
The Barakah nuclear power plant, which broke ground in 2011 and is slated to be complete by 2021, is currently being constructed by “Team Korea,” which include the Korea Electric Power Corporation, the Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power, Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction, Hyundai Engineering & Construction and Samsung C&T Corporation.
Last year, the UAE opened the bidding for the long-term maintenance agreement of the plant. Currently, there are three bidders, including a consortium comprising the Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power and Kepco Plant Service & Engineering, Doosan Babcock and US firm Allied Power, for the project worth between 2 trillion won ($1.7 billion) and 3 trillion won over the next 10 years.
For the bidding on maintenance, the Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power and Doosan, which are partners for the construction of the plants, have become rivals. The UK-based Doosan Babcock is an affiliate of Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction. The three bidders have been negotiating with the UAE in terms of prices and conditions and the final operator is slated to be selected as early as next month.
Last week, local media outlets reported Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation CEO Mohamed al-Hammadi met with the Korean government, requesting to lower the bidding price by more than 30 percent to be selected as a final bidder. The government immediately denied the reports as being “not true.”
Although the government said, “It is impossible to unconditionally push (Korean bidders) to gain contracts for the maintenance,” it is still critical for the government to export the nation’s nuclear power technologies amid growing criticism from opponents of the government‘s anti-nuclear polices.
Korea aims to completely phase out the nation’s nuclear power plants by 2082 as part of the nation’s nuclear-free plan to raise the proportion of renewable energy and lower that of nuclear energy.
By Shin Ji-hye (firstname.lastname@example.org)