|Map of Jordan|
Also, the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) shortlisted three potential bidders for the $5 billion project.
The JAEC, which had already selected two sites at Mafraq, 60 km east of Amman, and Aqaba, Red Sea port city, said the criteria for the first two and the other four are safety, seismic stability, and access to cooling water.
The Jordan Nuclear Regulatory Commission will review the sites for safety issues.
The three firms which have been short-listed to bid on building the reactor, are Atomstroyexport (Russia), AECL (SNC Lavalin, Canada), and a joint venture of Areava (France) with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (Japan). Khalid Touqan, head JAEC, told financial wire services in Jordan the winning bidder is expected to be announced by the end of 2012.
In late 2011 Jordan had announced a temporary postponement of the project while it firmed up financing for the project. While no details have been announced, one option is that the reactor will be an owner operated project with a guaranteed rate of return for a set period of years followed by sale of the plant to local investors. Negotiations with potential investors are expected to begin in March 2012.
|Khalid Tougan, JAEC Director|
Energy security v. energy costs
The JAEC has said it expects the reactor to enter revenue service by 2019 and to be a source of electricity with 12 other countries in the region. One of the drivers for the project is energy security as the country has seen interruptions of natural gas supplied from Egypt. A pipeline network between the two countries has suffered 10 sabotage attacks in the past 12 months.
JAEC's Touqan has had to address the cost of the reactor in the country's parliament where critics have charged that cost over runs could severely impact the government's finances. He defended the safety of the reactor designs saying all vendors are offering third generation reactors with advanced safety features.
Nuclear cooperation agreements
Touqan noted in his testimony that Jordan has signed nuclear technology cooperation agreements with Spain, France, Russian and the U.K. However, a so-called 1-2-3 Agreement with the U.S. has not been signed due in part to opposition in the U.S. from nonproliferation groups.
|Ellen Tausher, |
U.S. Under Secretary
of State for Arms Control
According to wire service reports, Ellen Tausher, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control, said Jan 12, a draft agreement is being reviewed by the Jordanian government. She said she plans to go to Jordan in February to negotiate an agreement along with Department of Energy Under Secretary Daniel Poneman
The U.S. has pursued the UAE model in the Middle East, but not elsewhere, Tausher said, because proliferation issues are more significant in that part of the world. Pressure from Congress may play a role in negotiations with Jordan.
In 2011 the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed H.R. 1280 that broadens the review process for 1-2-3 agreements with a preference for the UAE model. For its part, the Obama administration objected to the House bill saying that its new restrictions would impede nuclear technology cooperation agreements. The bill was not reported out by the committee to the House floor for a vote.
Jordan has an estimated 70,000 tonnes of uranium deposits and has asked Areva's mining operation to further define the deposits and develop a plan to exploit them. It isn't clear whether Jordan is interested in developing fuel cycle production facilities or will simply sell the uranium to firms like Areva in return for a guaranteed fuel supply.
Indian billionaire takes stake in Terrapower
Reliance Industries, which is one of the world's foremost operators of oil refineries, has taken a minority stake in TerraPower LLC, a nuclear reactor design effort privately funded in part by former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates. Reliance told financial wire services that billionaire chairman Mukesh Ambani sees nuclear energy as having a big role in the future of energy supply on the planet. The firm is diversifying its portfolio.
Bill Gates visited China in 2011 telling his hosts the project will take time to reach technical maturity and may cost $1 billion. The reactor is expected to be designed to produce either 500 MW or 1,000 MW. It is a sodium cooled fast reactor based in part on the technology of the Integral Fast Reactor developed at Argonne National Laboratory. TerraPower claims the reactor will be designed to run on depleted uranium for up to 60 years on a single fuel load.
Another investor in the project is Vinod Khosla, a U.S. venture capitalist. See ANS Nuclear Cafe 12/15/11 for a detailed report and analysis of the Gates visit to China and TerraPower's prospects.
CEZ downsizes Temelin bid
|Daniel Benes CEZ CEO|
Benes said the reason for the change is that demand for electricity has been stagnant and that given the economic doldrums of Europe, isn't likely to grow much in coming years.
The original tender was expected to be worth $28 billion but now may come in at about $10 billion. Bids are due in July 2012 with a winner expected to be selected in 2013.
The option for an additional three new reactors, one at CEZ's Dukovany site and two in Slovakia, would most likely be the subject of an entirely new bid and proposal process.
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