x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Firms submit final bids for nuclear power plants in Abu Dhabi

The Government will announce the winning bid late this month or early next year, a senior government official says.

The Government has received final bids from firms competing to build nuclear power plants in Abu Dhabi and will make a decision on the winner late this month or early next year, a senior government official said yesterday. Three teams of firms from France, South Korea, Japan and the US had until yesterday to submit bids for the estimated US$40 billion (Dh147bn) contract to build and operate a host of nuclear reactors in the emirate that will provide electricity to the entire country.

The comments by the government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed reports that the French consortium had submitted a new bid. That bid puts Electricité de France (EDF) at the head of the consortium, according to the firm's new chief executive, Henri Proglio. "EDF was asked to participate in this adventure as the assembler, the leader," Mr Proglio told reporters in Paris, according to Bloomberg. "EDF would play the role of pilot."

The bid was to build and help operate two reactors, he said, and included an option for two more. "Four nuclear reactors is not a small contract. We aren't bidding to lose," Mr Proglio said. EDF and GDF Suez would each take a 45 per cent stake in the bid, he said, while Total would own the remaining 10 per cent. The Government has not yet disclosed the final ownership breakdown between the foreign partner and the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation for the reactors, which will not be operational before 2017.

The Government says the reactors are needed to plug a looming shortage of electricity caused by a combination of rapid growth in consumption and limited natural gas supplies. Abu Dhabi alone expects consumption to grow by 11 per cent over the next several decades, the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Company said last month. cstanton@thenational.ae