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UAE Papers Laud Contract Awarded to S. Korea to Build Nuke Power Plants
The decision in choosing a South Korean consortium is believed to be dictated by safety and cost considerations, UAE press maintain.

Abu Dhabi (WAM) - UAE papers have much-admired UAE's decision to award a multibillion-dollar contract for building civilian nuclear reactors to South Korea declaring it an important benchmark.

Costing a staggering $20 billion, it is one of the biggest ever energy contracts in the world. With the establishment of four nuclear reactors, the country will stand proudly on the map of the world's leading nuclear-powered nations, commented Dubai-based English language "Khaleej Times" in its editorial "UAE does the region Proud" on Dec. 28.

"It is surely a moment of pride for it is not only a testament to achieving a technologically advanced status, it speaks volumes for the leadership that has sought to obtain peaceful nuclear technology in strict adherence to international law,"it added.

"The government's decision in choosing a South Korean consortium is believed to be dictated by safety and cost considerations. While other top contenders included heavyweights like US, France and Japan, it was Seoul that has walked away with the prized contract. The fact that South Korea has a long history of safe and advanced nuclear technology probably helped in the decision. It is an important factor to bear in the long-term given the constant maintenance and upgrading of nuclear reactors", the paper noted.

The project, expected to start in 2012, would entail the construction of four 1,400-MW power units. The production of electricity from these reactors is anticipated to meet the growing energy demand, especially clean energy of the country that is expected to grow to 40,000 MW by 2020.

Despite UAE being the world's third- largest oil exporter, it has had the foresight to seek alternative means to meet its energy requirements. It is good news, for any shortfall in power is likely to be covered once all reactors are operational by 2020. Other positive consequences for the national economy would be the development of specialised human resources. A parallel growth in related areas of technological training and advanced scientific studies is expected to boost this capacity.

"UAE's ability to acquire nuclear energy with international cooperation sets a precedent in the region where other states too are exploring independent civilian nuclear programmes".

"The move can be channelised positively for the benefit of other states and can actually prove to be a successful model in helping them acquire similar technology for clean energy. With closer GCC economic integration and plans to establish an inter-regional energy grid, the UAE nuclear power can prove to be a valuable asset. It is a huge and proud moment for UAE, a responsible and helpful state, as it strides into the future", Khaleej Times concluded.

Another English language daily of UAE "Gulf News" in its editorial " UAE on the road to nuclear energy" has said that government's handling of programme has ensured nation gets best commercial terms.

The UAE nuclear power programme moved from policy and planning to large-scale implementation when the country signed a Dh75 billion contract with a consortium from South Korea to build and service four reactors.

"The new nuclear plants will help the country meet its increasing need for power as its economy and population grow in the coming years", it added.

Nuclear energy is among the most cost effective and environmentally sustainable sources of power available at present, especially when the safe maintenance and running of plants is a priority, as is the case in the UAE. An integral part of the contracts is the transfer of technology and the training of nationals to safely manage and service the plants and to allow for the development of a local industry that can support the operation of the plants, among other economic benefits.

"The transparent and thorough manner in which the government has prepared its nuclear programme has assured the world that it is only being developed for peaceful purposes and this has given it access to the most modern technology", the paper said in its editorial.
In the meantime, the Abu Dhabi-based English language newspaper " The National" in its report titled "After oil, now welcome to the nuclear family" has said that fifty years after oil was first found in Abu Dhabi, profoundly changing its economy and placing it firmly on the world map, we are about to go through another transformation.
For those accustomed to seeing this country solely as a traditional oil producer, this may not yet have registered; but it is impossible to overstate the significance and implications of the decision to go nuclear, a decision now implemented with the choice of a nuclear operator.

With the announcement that the Government and nuclear authorities have chosen the South Korean consortium led by Kepco to build and operate the UAE's nuclear programme, this nation has fully entered the nuclear age, reported a local daily.

"The UAE has set itself ambitious development goals. It wants to diversify its economy, make better use of its oil wealth, embrace new technologies, become an industrial powerhouse, attract tourists and investors, maintain its status as the region's transportation and logistical hub, and train the region's best manpower.

This means economic expansion in parallel with demographic growth, two phenomena that require careful government intervention, from planning and management to oversight; already the population has increased by 75 per cent between 1995 and 2005, and GDP has more than tripled in the past 15 years", it said.

"Crucially, such a vision depends on modern and efficient infrastructure, notably a reliable and cost-effective supply of energy to power homes, industry and the desalination plants that produce 98 per cent of our water. Energy production must double by 2020 to meet demand. So far, the UAE has mostly relied on gas- and coal-fired electrical plants, but there is now a need for innovative solutions; a diversified energy base is an essential component of energy security", it added.

"Why not burn more oil to produce electricity, some have asked, but there is no economic logic to that. It makes better sense to sell oil on the global market, and the UAE is working to move away from its dependence on exporting a raw commodity, investing instead in the production of oil-based value-added goods such as petrochemicals and high-quality steel. Using cheap feedstock in factories on UAE soil staffed with an increasing number of Emirati workers is one way to meeting the nation's objectives. Alternative energy is still in development and cannot alone satisfy demand, though the UAE is now a leader on that front through the Masdar initiative", the paper held.

Nuclear energy has emerged as the safest, most reliable option. It was once reviled, but there is overwhelming agreement that safety and environmental measures now make it all the more attractive in a world increasingly and justifiably concerned by carbon emissions. "The UAE has moved faster than anyone to implement its nuclear vision. By 2017 we will have the world's most modern reactor, one of four Kepco will build, each producing up to 1,310 megawatts".

"The political significance of the decision, paradoxically, is that it was not about politics, but about the intrinsic merits of the three competing bids. The choice was made purely on industrial and commercial grounds.

Though a commendable example of economic success, South Korea is no strategic giant that can provide additional political benefits. Its offer distinguished itself for its pricing, financing, technology, timeline and reliability. The other two, while impressive, failed to score on several accounts. Simply put, the UAE's choice is evidence of a confident nation that makes crucial decisions based on what is best for itself", the report remarked.

"The secondary and tertiary effects of the nuclear venture are perhaps as important as the production of energy. The very process of building the plants and the supporting infrastructure will be the equivalent of a massive government project to boost the economy. The UAE's technological lead will be strengthened through the training of dozens of Emirati nationals to operate the plants, and its base will be expanded through the planned transfer of technology and expertise".

"Nuclear energy is the future, and the UAE has taken a prime seat in that endeavour. The programme and the way it was pursued are a textbook case of how to tap into the most valuable source of power without creating undue fears about ultimate intentions. The UAE is maturing technologically and economically, to the benefit of its citizens and its partners", the report concluded.






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