Kepco signs $900 million nuclear deal with UAE

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Kepco signs $900 million nuclear deal with UAE

The Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) signed a deal Thursday with the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation to operate four nuclear power plants being constructed in Barakah in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The two power companies signed an $18.6 billion contract to build four nuclear power plants together in 2009. The deal signed Thursday to operate the plants is worth $900 million.

Kepco said construction of the four plants in Barakah, about 270 kilometers (168 miles) west of Abu Dhabi, will be finished by 2020. The Korean power distributor will operate them for 60 years.

“The deal will allow us to have a long-term partnership with the UAE as we are not only participating in construction but also in operation and we expect it will help our company get more power plant projects overseas,” said Cho Hwan-eik, CEO of Kepco.

Kepco said the deal will bring it about $49.4 billion in profits over 60 years, which is equivalent to exporting 2.28 million automobile or 52 million cellphones. Kepco is negotiating another deal to dispatch Korean workers to the new plants for 10 years.

Kepco said 1,000 new overseas jobs will be created.

“The deal will have a big impact on the Korean economy since domestic companies involved in businesses related to nuclear power can have a chance to enter the UAE market,” said Park Yong-sung, a representative of Kepco. “President Park Geun-hye’s visit to the construction site in 2014 and the government’s efforts to strengthen ties with the UAE helped us get the deal.”

Construction of the Barakah plants, which began in 2010, is 68 percent done. They will be able to generate 5,600 megawatts of electricity annually when finished. The first plant’s construction will be finished as early as May next year and remaining three plants will come online in phases through 2020.

The Barakah nuclear power plants are Korea’s first overseas nuclear power plants. Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Joo Hyung-hwan, who visited the UAE from Tuesday to Thursday, went to the Barakah site to see how the work is coming along.

BY KIM YOUNG-NAM [kim.youngnam@joongang.co.kr]

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