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S. Korea expresses intent to bid for Saudi Arabian nuclear project

All Headlines 10:15 October 26, 2017

SEOUL, Oct. 26 (Yonhap) -- South Korea expressed its intention to bid in the upcoming nuclear reactor project in Saudi Arabia and discussed ways to expand cooperation in the energy sector in a bilateral business meeting, Seoul's energy ministry said Thursday.

Paik Un-gyu, South Korean minister of trade, industry and energy met with Adel bin Muhammad Fakeih, Saudi Arabian minister of economy and planning, to discuss ways to cooperate on the commercial nuclear program being pursued by Riyadh.

The kingdom officially launched a renewable energy program this year, which includes plans to build two nuclear reactors by 2030 to diversify its energy mix. It is expected to announce the bid by the end of year.

The upcoming project is seen by South Korea as a second chance to get involved in the Middle East nuclear energy sector, following a US$20-billion contract in 2009 to build four reactors in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Paik stressed that South Korea has 40 years of nuclear reactor development and operation expertise and shared the government's plan to support overseas projects.

The Seoul government has vowed to support local companies' bids to export nuclear reactors overseas, in a move to ease concerns that the domestic nuclear phase-out plan could adversely affect efforts to newly secure contracts.

The bilateral meeting came after a South Korean business delegation visited Saudi Arabia in May to promote economic ties in the energy, auto, shipbuliding and other sectors.

The two nations formed a joint working group to help Saudi Arabia achieve its "Vision 2030," which is intended to reduce the kingdom's dependence on oil and develop other industrial sectors.

The move came as the oil-rich country has been seeking to diversify its economic portfolios following a plunge in oil prices. Saudi Arabia sees auto manufacturing, shipbuilding, renewable energy and other areas as new growth drivers.

ejkim@yna.co.kr
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