South Korea offers help to build Egypt’s nuclear plants

South Korea seeks to help Egypt build its nuclear plants in a move to further enhance economic cooperation between the two countries, Seoul-based Yonhap news agency reported on Thursday.

"South Korea will work more closely with Egypt in infrastructure, finance, industrial complex construction, nuclear power plants, oil field development and fisheries," the South Korean Finance Minister Yoon Jeung-hyun Yoon was quoted as saying after he met his Egyptian counterpart Boutros Ghali in Cairo on Wednesday.

Egyptian Electricity and Energy Minister Hassan Younis said on Sunday that Cairo will issue a tender for its nuclear power plants at the end of January and bidding companies will be given six months to present their offers.

Egypt is aiming to shift away from oil and gas to other sources and has said it wants to build four nuclear plants by 2025, with the first to start operating in 2019.

"The tender should be out by the end of January and is now being reviewed by the state council," Hassan Younes said.

Officials hope the new nuclear program will add capacity of up to 4000 megawatts by 2025.

"We have received interest for the bid from companies in all parts of the world including France, the United States, China, Russia and Japan," said Younes. The winner of the bid will be announced by the end of July or the beginning of August 2012, he added.

Egypt had invited several firms for consultancy and project briefings, including French nuclear reactor maker Areva, engineering group Alstom and Westinghouse Electric Co, a US-based unit of Japan's Toshiba.

In 2009, Egypt signed a deal with Australia's Worley Parsons for a nuclear power consultancy.

On Sunday, Orascom Construction Industries, Egypt's biggest listed builder, said it had formed a joint venture with state-owned Arab Contractors to bid on nuclear projects in the Middle East, including Egypt's first nuclear power plant.

That plant will be located in Dabaa on the country's Mediterranean coast.

Egypt has installed capacity of about 23,500 MW, but strained to meet demand during an unusually hot summer, leading to intermittent power cuts across the grid. It has said it aims for an additional 58,000 MW of capacity to the grid by 2027.

Egypt-South Korea trade reached a record high of US$2.85 billion during 2009.

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