Russian energy group main contender in new nuclear deal after previous deals struck down: report

Russian energy group Rosatom is once again the headline contender for South Africa’s nuclear expansion project – and the country will award the contract by the end of the year, the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) said on Monday,  speaking to Reuters.

Besides Rosatom, major nuclear firms from South Korea, France, the United States and China are interested in bidding for it, confirmed Necsa chairman, Kelvin Kemm on the sidelines of a nuclear conference in Moscow.

“We are aiming for this to be done before the end of the year, and we very imminently want to start,” said Kemm.

“Rosatom is definitely in there, but a decision has not been finally made. That will be a decision made by the senior politicians in collaboration with the technological and the company people,” he said.

South Africa’s nuclear deals were disrupted in April this year after the High Court deemed a nuclear cooperation pact with Russia unlawful. The court found that the tender was illegal and not in line with constitutionally sound administrative decision-making.

Judge Lee Bozalek also declared that the minister’s decision over the same time period to table certain other nuclear agreements before Parliament were also unlawful and unconstitutional and struck down all other cooperation agreements agreed to by the minister including partnerships with the USA and the Republic of Korea.

Necsa’s Kemm said on Monday that the court ruling had delayed the country’s plans by a couple of months but that the deal should still be completed by 2017.

In May, state-controlled Rosatom said it was still committed to taking part in a competitive bidding process to build nuclear plants in South Africa, reports Reuters.

Rosatom was created in 2007 from the Russian Atomic Energy Ministry with a view to turning nuclear power into a major export industry for Russia.

In response to a question as to whether Rosatom was a leading contender for the planned nuclear expansion, Kemm said: “Absolutely, Rosatom is a very important player”.


Read: South Africa’s power utility: so many red flags it’s hard to know where to start

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