It has been found that Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest petroleum producing country, is about to place an order for new nuclear power plants, considering Korean plant builders as the most potential candidates to partner with. Under the circumstances, the Korean government is anticipating that the situation will lead to another big news in the industry to follow the recent accomplishment in the United Arab Emirates.
According to industry sources, a project team made up of 40 or so key personnel of the Ministry of Knowledge Economy, the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO), Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction and so forth has recently held an information session in Saudi Arabia concerning the export of nuclear power plant technology. They went there at the invitation of the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KA-CARE).
Saudi Arabia is planning to raise its atomic power output by 17 million kilowatts by 2030 by building 12 more large-scale nuclear power stations, each having an approximate capacity of 1.4 million kilowatts. Assuming each of them costs US$5 billion, the market size reaches no less than US$60 billion. The Saudi Arabian government is expected to place two orders within this year or until early next year at the latest to put them into operation from 2022.
The oil producing country is focusing its attention on nuclear energy in an attempt to meet its rapidly growing domestic power demand. Saudi Arabia is currently using 30% of its petroleum output, three million barrels or so, to generate electricity but the power demand is growing at a fast clip these days and the government is considering that the requirement will add up to eight million barrels per year in 2030. “For Saudi Arabia, it is more advantageous to generate electricity at a low cost by means of nuclear power and sell oil to other countries expensively,” said a government official.
At present, Korea is engaged in nuclear power plant tenders in a number of countries, including Finland, Turkey, Vietnam and South Africa. Industry insiders are saying though that a construction project in Saudi Arabia will be far more lucrative than any of them because the Middle East nation’s financial conditions are very robust and Korean companies are building nuclear power stations in the UAE, one of its neighboring countries. “Finland has strict regulations in force and Turkey’s national finance is not that good, meaning Korean companies’ chances are rather slim, but we don’t have to be worried about Saudi Arabia’s solvency,” said an industry expert, continuing, “Still, we need to hold France in check in that the country is poised to get even with us for the power plant in the UAE.”