(Left)Paik Un-gyu, The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy shakes hands with Adel bin Muhammad Fakeih, Saudi Arabian Minister of Economy and Planning [Photo by Han Joo-hyung]
South Korea’s industry and energy minister Paik Un-gyu on Thursday met with visiting senior Saudi Arabian official to reaffirm the country’s hopes and commitment to win the first and ambitious nuclear reactor project in the world’s biggest oil producing country.
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said Thursday that Paik met with Saudi Arabian Minister of Economy and Planning Adel bin Muhammad Fakeih to discuss ways to cooperate on the Middle East country’s project to build commercial nuclear reactors.
The meeting came as the Seoul government under President Moon Jae-in has announced a long-term policy to wean the country off nuclear power and suspended construction of Shin Kori 5 and 6 reactors, drawing criticism about jeopardizing exports of Korea’s indigenous reactor technology as the new reactors were based on the same third-generation APR 1400 design that won $20 billion contract to build four reactors in the United Arab Emirates and must run in other overseas bids.
Under the past government, Seoul signed a deal with Saudi Arabia to transfer the design for system-integrated modular advance reactor (SMART). In September, it had been invited to exclusive session by Saudi which was preparing a tender process to pick a builder for its first two 1.4 gigawatt reactors. The deal would be near $3 billion and is part of Saudi’s plans to build 17.6 gigawatt reactors by 2032 or equivalent to 17 reactors. Seoul had sent a junior-level official to the meeting where other short-listed candidates including China and France dispatched high-ranking representatives.
Paik emphasized that Korea has an outstanding expertise in reactor construction and operation thanks to its 40-year-long experience of building and managing nuclear reactors both at home and abroad. He also stressed that Korea is the only country that has successfully delivered nuclear reactor projects on time and within budget in the Middle Eastern region.
The Saudi official said it will provide the details of the tender once they are finalized. The invitation for bidding had been expected to take place in October.
By Ko Jae-man and Choi Mira
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