UAE Secures $2Bn Ex-Im Bank Loan To Buy US Nuclear Equipment
Ex-Im Bank has underwritten the purchase of US technology for the first of four large nuclear plants in the UAE. Tthe loan is a key milestone in concluding financing for the first of four plants. These are due to come on-line from 2017.
By David Knott
The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) announced on 7 September the authorization of a $2bn direct loan to the UAEï¿½s Barakah One Company to underwrite the export of American equipment and services for the construction of a nuclear power plant in the UAE. The bank said the transaction will finance the construction of the first nuclear power plant on the Arabian peninsula, which upon completion will number among the largest nuclear generating facilities in the world.
Barakah One, a subsidiary of UAE nuclear power operator Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC), plans to build four 1.4gw capacity nuclear plants, bringing one into operation every year during 2017-20. They will be built on the Gulf coast some 220km west of Abu Dhabi city, and will be based on the state-of-the-art APR 1400 reactor design, developed by Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco). Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Company installed the worldï¿½s first APR-1400 reactor in July 2010 at the Shin-Kori Unit 3 power plant. This plant, due to be completed in September 2013, is said by Kepco to be the reference power plant for the UAE nuclear project. ENEC recently awarded six contracts worth a combined $3bn to a consortium led by Kepco for the provision of enriched uranium fuel assemblies (MEES, 29 August).
ENEC CEO Muhammad al-Hammadi said the Ex-Im loan is an important milestone on the way to announcing a financial agreement in the near term. ï¿½ENEC is progressing steadily with financial institutions, authorities and regulators to achieve this objective,ï¿½ he noted. ENECï¿½s strategy is to supplement the investment of the Abu Dhabi government with export credit agencies, such as US Ex-Im and commercial banks. ï¿½We are pleased that a leading international financing institution such as US Ex-Im has thoroughly analyzed the project and concluded that it is safety driven, technically robust, and is commercially and financially well structured. This investment will create thousands of jobs here in the UAE as well as in the home nations of our suppliers, partners and contractors,ï¿½ he continued.
On 9 September ENEC signed a memorandum of understanding with the UAEï¿½s National Emergency Crisis Management Authority (NECMA) for the development of off-site emergency response plans for the Barakah nuclear power plant. These are aimed at providing safety and protection for the local population, the environment and property. In a joint ENEC/NECMA statement, Mr Hammadi said: ï¿½Maintaining the highest international levels of safety and security is our top priority for the design, construction and operation of the plant in Barakah. That means being prepared for every scenario. Planning for emergencies is just one of the ways in which we ensure that the UAEï¿½s nuclear power program is among the safest in the world.ï¿½
The joint statement noted that ENEC officially commenced the construction of the UAEï¿½s first nuclear energy plant in July, by pouring the first concrete for the Barakah Unit 1. Last year Iran became the second nuclear power generating country in the region, bringing on-line a 1.0gw plant at Bushehr which incorporates Russian technology. On 1 September the Bushehr plant achieved full generating capacity for the first time, although the international community has concerns that Tehran used development of its nuclear power plant as cover for the acquisition of weapons technology (MEES, 10 September).
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