By Kim Tae-gyu
Korea all but clinched a large nuclear power plant deal with Turkey, Tuesday, with ministers of the two countries signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU).
This is the first time that the governments have officially reached this level of agreement on the nuclear deal, although the two countries had already forged a close partnership in the area.
The MOU concerns the construction of a pair of nuclear reactors on the Black Sea in Sinop, whose value is expected to approach $10 billion.
"Should Turkey reach an agreement on the Sinop facilities, the contractors would be Korean because the nation is currently the only negotiating partner as far as the project is concerned," a source close to the issue said on condition of anonymity.
"I regard the MOU as a very encouraging sign before eventually clinching the contract. Even though there remain some differences to iron out, Korea is expected to win the bid next year."
The comments are in line with those of Minister of Knowledge Economy Choi Kyung-hwan, who met his Turkish counterpart Taner Yildiz, minister of energy and natural resources, last week.
"We plan to brace for a two-track strategy involving public negotiations between the two governments and private talks between corporations," Choi said last week after meeting with Yildiz.
"We are required to strengthen cooperation between the two governments as well as develop an alliance of those who will actually take part in the projects. If we put forth concerted efforts, I expect we will see substantive results by the end of this year."
Should Korea seal the contract, it would be the second milestone for Korean nuclear energy plant exports. In late December last year, the Korea Electric Power Corp. inked a $20 billion agreement under which the state-run electricity monopoly will build four nuclear reactors in the United Arab Emirates by 2020.
The contract was signed after a hard-fought competition with global powerhouses General Electric and Areva, and is the largest-ever energy deal in the Middle East, whose value could double through operating payments.
Boosted by the achievement, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy came up with an ambitious goal of building up to 80 overseas nuclear reactors by 2030 to become the world's No. 3 player, chasing just the United States and France.
"Over the decades to come, we will briskly nurture exports as well as help our firms increase their capacity to carve out a fifth of the global market between 2020 and 2030," Minister Choi said last week.
South Korea currently operates 20 commercial reactors, which account for about 40 percent of its power demands. As the world's fifth-largest nuclear energy generator, it is looking to build eight more reactors by 2017.
정부, 터키와 원전 사업 마무리 단계
양국 장관들이 사업 협력에 관한 양해각서(MOU)를 채결함으로써 한국은 화요일 터키 내 대규모 원자력발전사업을 사실상 수주했다.
지금까지 양국은 원전분야에서 긴밀한 협력관계를 이루어왔지만 이번 합의는 장관 사이에서는 처음 공식적으로 맺어진 것이다.
양해각서는 두 기의 원자력발전소를 흑해 시놉지역에 짓는 것으로 100억 달러 규모다.
익명을 요구한 관계자는 "터키가 시놉 시설 관련 협정을 맺는다면 계약자는 한국이 될 것"이라며 "현재 시놉 원전 프로젝트에 관한 한 협상 중인 사업자는 우리 나라뿐"이라고 밝혔다.