Korea to build nuclear plant for Vietnam
A few decades ago, the two countries were on opposite sides in the Cold War era. Now, they are seeking ways for win-win business solutions.
Korea’s Ministry of Knowledge Economy said Wednesday that it had signed an agreement with its Vietnamese counterpart on checking the viability of building a nuclear power plant.
They will initiate studies next month, which are expected to take around a year to conclude.
“Korea has practically clinched the status as preferred bidder to construct a nuclear power plant in Vietnam by agreeing to start feasibility checks for the project,” Deputy Knowledge Economy Minister Moon Jae-do said.
If the Vietnamese government and assembly approve, the Korean side would be able to win the project to operate a pair of nuclear plants there.
The Vietnamese government wants the plants to meet the rising demand for electricity and Korea wants to export its APR 1400 reactors to the Southeast Asian nation.
Late last year, the two nations agreed to cooperate on nuclear energy and this is the first substantive contract under which they would come up with specific plans.
Should Seoul be able to sign an agreement with Hanoi, it would mark a second achievement of the former in its plan to export its nuclear energy technology.
A Korean consortium led by Korea Electric Power Corp. signed an $18.6 billion deal with the United Arab Emirates in late 2009 under which they would build a total of four nuclear reactors there.
After the largest energy deal in the Middle East, Korea has strived to seal follow-up contracts to little avail, particularly in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster in Japan last March.
If the Vietnamese deal fares well, Asia’s No. 4 economy is expected to gain fresh momentum in its long-term goal of raising its status through nuclear energy.
Korea is one of the world’s nuclear powerhouses as the country depends on the energy source to meet around a third of its energy consumption.
By Kim Tae-gyu - The Korea Times - March 28, 2012
Nuclear deal with Vietnam
Korea is one step closer to participating in Vietnam’s nuclear power construction project. According to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy, Korea has concluded an agreement with Vietnam to conduct a preliminary feasibility study on building a Korean-developed nuclear power plant in the Southeast Asian country.
The deal was agreed between President Lee Myung-bak and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on Wednesday following the Nuclear Security Summit held in Seoul. According to the ministry, the agreement means Korea has secured the status of preferred negotiator for Vietnam’s plan to build its fifth and sixth reactors.
Vietnam plans to build 10 nuclear reactors, each with a capacity of 1 gigawatt. Russia won the order for the first two reactors in 2009 while Japan was awarded the third and fourth plants the following year.
The preliminary feasibility study is expected to start next month at the earliest and will take about a year to conclude. If the study is approved by the Vietnamese parliament, an official deal will be signed for construction by 2020 of two Korean-developed APR-1400 reactors, which would cost $10 billion.
If Korea wins additional deals to provide support for the operation of the reactors, the total contract sum could reach $20 billion. Furthermore, the latest agreement has brightened the prospect of Korea winning the orders for the remaining four reactors.
If Korea is chosen for the Vietnamese project, it would mark its second major nuclear technology export deal. In 2009, Korea signed an $18.6 billion contract with the United Arab Emirates to build four APR-1400 reactors there.
After the mega deal with the UAE, however, Korea has failed to clinch additional orders. One reason was the Fukushima disaster last March, which led some countries to cancel or delay their plans to go nuclear.
Against this backdrop, if Korea wins the Vietnamese order, it will inject fresh vigor into Korea’s nuclear industry. It will be another testament to Korea’s advanced and reliable nuclear technology. It could also provide momentum to the ongoing negotiations with Turkey.
Despite the increased recognition abroad of Korea’s nuclear technology, opposition to nuclear power is growing domestically. But critics should realize that nuclear energy is the best option available to meet growing demand for electricity.
According to an IAEA estimate released last September, the number of nuclear power plants to be built by 2030 around the world ranges between 90 and 350. This means the size of the global nuclear plant market will reach between $15.2 billion and $57.7 billion a year through 2030. Korea should not miss out.
The Korea Herald - March 30, 2012