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Kepco picked as top bidder for Toshiba’s UK atomic project

A purchase by Kepco would be a boon for South Korea’s nuclear export programme

Gulf News

SEOUL/TOKYO: Korea Electric Power Co. has been picked as the preferred bidder for Toshiba Corp.’s nuclear reactor project in the UK amid a push by the South Korean company to expand into the international market.

Kepco, as the utility is known, has started exclusive negotiations with Toshiba for NuGen, which is developing a nuclear power plant in northwest England’s Moorside, the company said in a statement Wednesday. Negotiations will take several months and the deal, which requires UK approvals, could be completed in the first half of next year, it said. A Toshiba spokeswoman confirmed the decision.

Toshiba has been looking to shed the Moorside project since taking multibillion-dollar losses on its now-bankrupt US nuclear unit, Westinghouse Electric Power Co. NuGen had also drawn a bid from China General Nuclear Power Corp., which is also involved in the UK’s Hinkley Point C project.

A purchase by Kepco would be a boon for South Korea’s nuclear export programme as it vies to succeed industry pioneers such as Westinghouse and Areva SA, which have become mired in cost overruns and construction delays. While South Korea is among only a few nations to have started up and exported advanced nuclear reactors, the government’s goal to phase out atomic power at home is seen hindering its overseas ambitions.

E&C surge

Kepco Engineering & Construction Co., a subsidiary that designs nuclear plants, jumped as much as 24 per cent to 29,100 won on Thursday, the biggest intraday move since September 2015. The company is expected to win about 600 billion won ($548 million) worth of contracts on plant designing services, Korea Investment & Securities said in a note Thursday.

Kepco rose as much as 2.7 per cent to 39,500 won and traded at 38,950 at 10:13am in Seoul. The benchmark Kospi Index lost 0.3 per cent.

Kepco last year fired up its first advanced home-grown reactor, known as the APR1400. In 2009, a Kepco-led group won a $20 billion contract to build four of the reactors in the United Arab Emirates. Kepco aims to export another six units by 2020.

If Kepco takes over Moorside, it may change the original NuGen plan to build three Westinghouse-designed AP1000 reactors. Dong-A Ilbo newspaper reported in July that NuGen notified Kepco that the UK government will allow it to adopt the APR1400 model. The development aims to complete a plant with about 3 gigawatts of capacity by around 2030, the company and the South Korean energy ministry said in statements Wednesday.