Rosatom Seeks to Build Four Egypt Reactors in Regional Push

  • Russian company hopes to complete El-Dabaa project in 2022
  • Rosatom also in talks for nuclear power in Saudi Arabia

Rosatom Corp. is in final talks toward a contract to build four reactors in Egypt as the Russian nuclear power company pushes to expand across the Middle East, one of the world’s most attractive markets for atomic power, a Rosatom official said.

The company is negotiating with the Egyptian government to sign a deal by the end of the year to do engineering, procurement and construction work for the El-Dabaa nuclear project, Anton Moskvin, vice president for marketing and business development, told reporters Wednesday in Abu Dhabi. Russian and Egyptian officials are discussing terms of a loan for the work, and Rosatom targets completing the plants in 2022 once the contract is signed, he said.

“We see the Middle East as one of the most promising markets in our portfolio,” Moskvin said later in an interview. This is mainly because the United Arab Emirates is showing “great results” in developing a nuclear industry and other states in the region are “constantly” expanding their economies and building infrastructure, he said.

Jordan Project

El-Dabaa, Egypt’s first nuclear power project, would help the Arab world’s most populous country meet its rising electricity needs. The four reactors would be built in phases of two plants each near the Mediterranean coast about 170 kilometers (105 miles) west of Alexandria. The U.A.E. will be the first Arab state in the oil-rich Persian Gulf region with a nuclear plant if the facility starts operating as scheduled in 2017. Korea Electric Power Corp. is building the U.A.E. plant, one of four planned in the emirate of Abu Dhabi.

State-run Rosatom is in talks with Saudi Arabia to build reactors in that country, and it plans to brief Moroccan officials on nuclear power in November, he said. The company is also considering investing in a nuclear project in Jordan, Moskvin said. If it chooses not to invest equity in the Jordanian project, Rosatom or the Russian government may provide loans or other kinds of financial support for it, he said. 

Jordan lacks oil and natural gas, and it needs nuclear power to desalinate water and generate electricity, Barbara Judge, a former chairman of the U.K. Atomic Energy Authority, said in an interview in Abu Dhabi.

The Middle East “looks like it’s going to be one of the most important parts of the world for nuclear energy -- that and China, ” she said. “Asia and the Middle East are going to lead the way.”

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