With the dim outlook of Korea’s bid to win a nuclear power project in Finland, the government is shifting gear on its nuclear export drive to Vietnam from the northern European country.
The change in target nations comes following a summit in Hanoi between President Park Geun-hye and Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang on Sunday and little progress in a bid for an ongoing Finnish reactor construction project.
“Reflected in a joint statement issued on Monday after the summit, the two heads of state agreed on continued exchanges and cooperation in fostering Vietnam’s nuclear power industry,” Energy Minister Yoon Sang-jick said in a press briefing on Tuesday. Based on the agreement, the energy minister raised hope that Korea will take part in Vietnam’s third nuclear power development plan.
Vietnam plans to build 10 nuclear reactors by 2030 and Korea expects to build two of them through a private deal, not through a bidding process. The two reactor projects are expected to be worth about $10 billion or more, a ministry official said.
Besides Korea, Japan and Russia acquired Vietnam’s first and second reactor construction plans in 2009, respectively, according to the ministry.
“We have already launched a preliminary feasibility study on Vietnam’s third reactor development plan in June,” the minister added.
Behind the ministry’s second reactor export drive to Vietnam is the downbeat outlook for an ongoing nuclear reactor bid in Finland.
Currently, TeollisuudenVoima, a Finland-based utility company, delayed the announcement of the final bidder. Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power, a state-run nuclear power plant operator, which submitted a bid for the project early this year, competes with Japanese and French rivals to win the deal.
Industry watchers forecast France-based Areva will fall behind in the race as it is in a legal dispute with TeollisuudenVoima over a previous reactor construction project.
Korea has driven its reactor exports based on home-grown technology since its watershed $40 billion deal with the United Arab Emirates, clinched in 2009, but it has faced bumps due to Japan’s rivalry armed with better financing capability and a falling reputation tainted by repeated corruption scandals in the local nuclear power industry.
By Seo Jee-yeon (email@example.com