By Kim Tae-gyu
A few decades ago, the two countries were on opposite sides in the Cold War era. Now, they are seeking ways for win-win business solutions.
Korea’s Ministry of Knowledge Economy said Wednesday that it had signed an agreement with its Vietnamese counterpart on checking the viability of building a nuclear power plant.
They will initiate studies next month, which are expected to take around a year to conclude.
“Korea has practically clinched the status as preferred bidder to construct a nuclear power plant in Vietnam by agreeing to start feasibility checks for the project,” Deputy Knowledge Economy Minister Moon Jae-do said.
If the Vietnamese government and assembly approve, the Korean side would be able to win the project to operate a pair of nuclear plants there.
The Vietnamese government wants the plants to meet the rising demand for electricity and Korea wants to export its APR 1400 reactors to the Southeast Asian nation.
Late last year, the two nations agreed to cooperate on nuclear energy and this is the first substantive contract under which they would come up with specific plans.
Should Seoul be able to sign an agreement with Hanoi, it would mark a second achievement of the former in its plan to export its nuclear energy technology.
A Korean consortium led by Korea Electric Power Corp. signed an $18.6 billion deal with the United Arab Emirates in late 2009 under which they would build a total of four nuclear reactors there.
After the largest energy deal in the Middle East, Korea has strived to seal follow-up contracts to little avail, particularly in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster in Japan last March.
If the Vietnamese deal fares well, Asia’s No. 4 economy is expected to gain fresh momentum in its long-term goal of raising its status through nuclear energy.
Korea is one of the world’s nuclear powerhouses as the country depends on the energy source to meet around a third of its energy consumption.