ENEC and KEPCO JV secures UAE’s nuclear future
The latest joint venture between the UAE’s nuclear operator and its prime contractor from South Korea demonstrated the strong commitment towards Abu Dhabi’s nuclear programme
The latest joint venture between the UAE’s nuclear operator and its prime contractor from South Korea demonstrated the strong commitment towards Abu Dhabi’s nuclear programme, Enec’s chief executive says.
Mohammed Al Hammadi, speaking to The National, said the deal would bring a lot of nuclear expertise to the UAE.
"We have the backing of 40 years of Korea’s experience," said the head of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation. "There will be more staff coming from Korea to work here and we will always make sure to bring their top experts, firms and companies."
Enec and the Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) signed a joint venture agreement last week establishing a long-term partnership, including the set-up of Barakah One PJSC, an independent subsidiary owned by both companies, to represent the commercial and financial interests of the nuclear power plant project.
The agreement also entitles Kepco to an 18 per cent stake in Enec’s subsidiary Nawah Energy Company, which was established in May to operate and maintain Barakah Units 1 to 4.
"This is a new era," Mr Al Hammadi said.
Founded in 1982, Kepco is South Korea’s largest electric utility, operating 23 nuclear units in the country, with another five under construction and 10 planned.
"Kepco brings with it international expertise in constructing, operating and maintaining a nuclear power plant," Mr Al Hammadi said. "This gives good credibility to the UAE that it has been doing what it pledged it would do in its nuclear policy in 2008."
The US$4.5 billion investment by Kepco moves it from being the principal constructor to one of the owners of the UAE’s nuclear power plant at Barakah in the Western Region.
"This makes it more closely aligned with the UAE programme and shows its confidence in a long-term sustainability and success of the peaceful nuclear power plant," said Lady Barbara Judge, former head of the UK Atomic Energy Authority and a member of the International Advisory Board for the development of nuclear energy in the UAE.
"It’s important to know that this is one of the largest single instances of foreign investments in the history of the UAE, which is good not just for the nuclear programme but also [it] demonstrates the confidence of the Koreans in the success of the UAE economy. So it shows they are investing a serious amount of money in the UAE and draws them even closer economically."
She said the deal would ensure that the plants that are handed over to the UAE will be in the best possible condition in terms of being well-built and safe.
"They are even more incentivised as an owner to make sure it’s the gold standard," she said. "With the UAE being a newcomer to nuclear power, this is very important because it creates a stable, mutually reinforced channel in which the UAE will benefit from expertise and knowledge."