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UAE names body to help set up nuclear facilities

Energy corporation in final stages of negotiating contracts

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Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The federal government on Wednesday announced the establishment of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec) as a standalone entity, widely considered the final step before awarding a massive nuclear plant construction contract.

Enec will be in charge of awarding the estimated $41 billion (Dh151 billion) contract to one of three consortia from France, South Korea, and the US and Japan, according to sources.

"This is a proud moment for the UAE, as we take a strategic step to fuel the continued growth of our nation with nuclear energy," Enec Chief Executive Officer Mohammad Al Hammadi said in a statement. "We take this step with a deep understanding of the responsibility to use this technology wisely and safely."

According to the statement, Enec is in the "fin-al stages of negotiating with contractors bidding to design, build and help operate the plants", with construction expected to begin in 2012. Enec has said it expects the first plant to come on stream in 2017.

123 Agreement

The announcement comes less than a week after a nuclear cooperation pact between the UAE and the US, known as the 123 Agreement, went into effect.

The agreement allows US firms to participate in building the nuclear plants after the UAE provided guarantees that its nuclear programme would remain peaceful, including foregoing uranium enrichment.

In making its case for nuclear power, the UAE has cited an expected 9 per cent annual increase in electricity demand through 2020 to 40,000 megawatts. The country's supply and demand are now near equilibrium at about 16,000 megawatts.

Enec, which was set up in mid-2008, has been a part of the Executive Authority of Abu Dhabi.

The organisation will now be subject to the regulation of the Federal Authority of Nuclear Regulation, which was established in October with the issuance of the country's nuclear energy law.

The board members are:

  • Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman
  • Shaikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Deputy Chairman
  • Jasem Mohamad Al Za’abi, Member
  • Mohamad Sahu Al Suwaidi, Member
  • David F. Scott, Member