Energy minister rejects pleas for an extension
Hilmi Guler, (left) Turkey's energy minister, told a press conference this week in Ankara that there will be no delay in the date for opening bids on Turkey's new nuclear power plant. He said the government would open bids on Sept 24. He rejected a request from four potential bidders for a delay which included questions about legal issues and insurance. "At this point we expect interested companies to work more and to adopt our conditions and the fixed date for the tender," he said.
Guler cited the urgent need to increase energy production and ruled out any delay or postponement in Turkey's first nuclear power plant tender, saying, "We have no time to lose."
Turkey needs to make a total $70 billion investment in energy production and distribution network by 2020 to meet its increasing demand, a government body said this week. It also said net energy import in 2008 is expected to hit $46-47 billion.
One bidder may pull out
One of the major consortiums considering a bid said in response it would now have second thoughts after hearing the government's position. Sabanci Holding, a Turkish conglomerate, told Bloomberg wire service it may drop out of participation in the bid process.
Bloomberg reported that Sabanci was one of those seeking an extension, and after the government's refusal said, "we are reconsidering our position together with our partners."
Sabanci Holding Chairwoman Guler Sabanci (right) told reporters in Istanbul, "Apart from extending the deadline for auction, there are many unanswered questions about several issues, including licensing and insurance of the plants."
Sabanci has partners that include Spain's Iberdrola SA and General Electric Co. Iberdrola controls one Spanish nuclear plant and has stakes in five others. General Electric is partnered with Japan's Hitachi and may offer their newest boiling water reactor (BWR) design if the firm submits a bid.
Critics weigh in on management issues
The Turkish Daily News reported that critics of the project said that even if the government makes a contract award, there are still significant challenges ahead for the project.
Iskender Gökalp, Director of the National Scientific Research Center based in Paris, said Turkey lacks the necessary engineering talent and skilled trades to design and build a nuclear power plant.
"Turkey might be the first country where a nuclear power plant will be built without necessary scientific and engineering personnel. I do not think there are countries with nuclear power plants without a firm grip on nuclear technology." he said.
Energy Expert Haluk Direskeneli (right) added that the lack of personnel is one angle that cannot be ignored because it will lead to a mismanaged power plant. He said the country has trouble managing its fossil-fueled power plants. He also noted that Russian and Chinese companies might come to dominate the nuclear energy sector, a sector that was supposed to reduce Turkey's dependency on overseas resources.
"Turkish firms are not capable of anything but laying the groundwork of the plant site. Turkey is simply not ready," he said.
Government scoops up nuclear protestors
While the bid process was being worked over in the capital, Turkish police detained 32 people involved in an anti-nuclear protest in Sinop. They held a demonstration at the provincial governor's office by laying down and pretending to be dead bodies from a nuclear accident.
The Associated Press reported that Niklas Hartmann, of the group European Youth for Action, said the police arrested the group which included American, German, and French citizens. The group had been camped near the site since Aug 9 according to a statement on its web site. It wasn't clear from press reports what the grounds were for the arrests other than the protest was an embarrassment to the government at the time it was trying to push forward with the nuclear bid process. Hartmann claimed the police disregarded the right of free speech in Turkey.
List of potential bidders
Turkey initiated a tender for the construction and operation of a nuclear power plant in the Akkuyu district of Mersin province in March of this year.
According to a list circulated by the Energy Ministry on Aug. 25, Vinci SA of France, Brussels-based Suez-Tractebel SA, China Guandong Nuclear Power Group Co., AECL Inc., Japan's Itochu Corporation and ZAO Atomstroyexport of Russia are among companies that received the tender documents.
Istanbul-based Alarko Holding AS, a venture including Hema Enerji AS and another venture led by Dogan Sirketler Grubu Holding AS of Turkey that includes Canada's Bruce Power LP are also among the potential bidders. The Canadian contribution could include participation by AECL for its new ACR1000 rector which is still in the design stage. However, Turkey might not accept an unproven reactor in a bid.
Turkey plans to build a nuclear power plant with a capacity of 3,000-5,000 megawatts. Turkish Electricity Trading and Contracting Company (TETAŞ) will sign a contract with the lowest bidder to purchase the power generated in this nuclear plant for at least 15 years following the start of operations. Turkey also plans to build a second plant near Sinop on the Black Sea coast.
Prior coverage on this blog
- Turkey to build second nuclear plant
- Turkey calls for bids on three nuclear plants
- Turkey plans 5 GWe $10 billion new build
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