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AECL may lose South Korean Candu bid

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(February 27, 1998) South Korean nuclear industry Kepco (Korea Electric Power Corp.) has decided in principle solely to build Pressurized Water Reactors, not the Pressurized Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR) promoted by the Canadian industry. The CANDUs now under construction are to be the last of that type which would be built in the country.

(478.4837) WISE Amsterdam The Canadian nuclear reactor distributor Atomic Energy of Canada (AECL) "will build no more reactors in Korea" after Wolsung-4 is completed next year, claimed one South Korean official. Wolsung-4 is the fourth CANDA-reactor built in South Korea. The decision followed an evaluation of the future direction of the Korean nuclear energy program. Outcome of the discussion was to concentrate on one reactor-type. AECL was competing head-on with PWR vendor ABB-CE (Asea Brown Boveri- Combustion Engineering) for four new reactors near Wolsung. Letters of intent for the nuclear project should have been awarded in late 1997, but due to the massive economic crisis, investment decisions were shelved until this spring.

Since November, financial sources were speculating that the ongoing economic crisis would lead to postponing
near-term nuclear investments for a year or more. Officials from both AECL and ABB-CE said that thus far they had not been affected by the cash flow problems of Kepco. But according to ABB-CE reports, Kepco has already put off current construction work at Ulchin-5 and -6, the two last reactors ordered by Kepco, because of its intense cash flow problems. Ulchin-5 and -6 should have entered operations in 2003 and 2004, respectively. ABB-CE had been informally notified of Kepco's intention to delay the project by one year. Construction work at Yonggwang-5 and -6, due to be completed in 2001 and 2002, have not been affected by delays so far.
Kepco has stressed, in meetings with government financial experts, that without continued nuclear construction, South Korea would have to switch to fossil fuels. Prices of gasoline have trebled since the crisis began. Other sources said, however, that the International Monetary Fund and foreign bankers want to stop near- term nuclear investments, and that more emphasis should be placed on rationalizing the use of energy.
The decision not to buy any more reactors from Canada is a heavy blow for AECL, which is also trying to sell reactors to Turkey and China, without success so far.

Source: Nucleonics Week, 29 January 1998, p.1,10,11
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