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Russia, Egypt sign nuclear power agreement

Russia and Egypt signed an agreement on cooperation in the civilian nuclear sphere on Tuesday, allowing Russian companies to bid for deals to build nuclear power plants in Egypt.
Speaking after talks with visiting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at his residence near Moscow, outgoing President Vladimir Putin said the deal “opens up new horizons for bilateral cooperation.” The agreement, signed by the Russian and Egyptian nuclear chiefs, Sergei Kiriyenko and Hassan Younes, respectively, also envisions personnel training for nuclear facilities in Egypt and nuclear fuel supplies to the country. A tender for the construction of Egypt’s first nuclear power plant is expected to be announced this year. The project is estimated to be worth $1.5-2 billion.

Egypt also plans to later build another three nuclear power plants with aggregate capacity of 1,800 MW, or 600 MW each, in a bid to meet its energy needs and diversify energy sources, thereby allowing the country’s hydrocarbon reserves to last longer. Russia, seeking to develop high tech sectors to reduce dependence on oil and gas exports, has signaled interest in building a nuclear plant in Egypt. Russia’s nuclear power equipment and service export monopoly Atomstroyexport is currently building five nuclear power plants in China, India and Iran, under contracts worth $4.5 billion overall, and has also won a tender to build a plant in Belene, Bulgaria. The company is currently in talks on building nuclear plants in Morocco, Vietnam, and South Africa.

(BBJ 26.iii.08)