Egypt to take bids on first nuclear plant

Dina Ezzat, Saturday 11 Dec 2010

Bidding for the first of four nuclear plants Egypt intends to build will open soon



The countdown is on for the founding of four Egyptian nuclear power plants dedicated to peaceful purposes that are to be build in the north coast area of Al-Dabaa as of early next year.

According to Hassan Younis, minister of power and electricity, the bid invitation for the first power plant is to be out “either by the end of this year or by early next year”.

Several nuclear technology producing countries, including the US, France, Russia, South Korea and China, are expected to compete on the bid, according to Younis.

Speaking to reporters following a meeting of the Higher Council For Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy, chaired by President Hosni Mubarak today, Younis said that the plan is to operate the first power plant by 2019. By 2025 Egypt is hoping to have finished the fourth power plant.

According to preliminary assessments, each power plant would cost about $4 billion. Younis added that part of this money would be provided by Egypt while the rest would be offered by “development partners”.

Comprehensive studies are currently ongoing in the Ministry of Finance on fund the Egyptian side. Both Minister of Finance Youssef Ghali and Minister of International Cooperation Fayza Aboul-Nagga are intensifying efforts on the matter.

In parallel, Younis said that his ministry is intensifying training programmes for nuclear scientists who would be working in the four Egyptian power plants.

Meanwhile, Younis denied that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has unanswered questions on the nature of the Egyptian nuclear programme. “We keep very good relations and transparent cooperation with the IAEA,” Younis said.

Last month, sources working at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna suggested that there were some question marks over the nature of the Egyptian nuclear programme. And earlier this month, one Wikileaks US cable revealed an implicit Egyptian threat to pursue a military nuclear programme should Iran develop one. Tehran is working on 20 nuclear power plants.

Egyptian officials say that the leak is inaccurate and the cable should be read metaphorically, not literally.

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