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Aug 28, 2010

Egypt plans starting nuclear power tender this year

CAIRO, Aug 7 (Reuters) - Egypt plans to start an international bidding process this year for its first nuclear energy plant, Electricity and Energy Minister Hassan Younes told state-owned al-Ahram newspaper.

The Arab world's most populous country is aiming to shift away from oil and gas to other sources and has said it wants to build four nuclear power plants by 2025, with the first to start operating in 2019.

Officials hope the new nuclear programme will add capacity of up to 4,000 megawatts by 2025.

'Egypt's nuclear project is progressing steadily and we expect to start the tender before the end of this year,' Younes told the daily newspaper in an interview published on Saturday.

The ministry has invited several firms for consultancy and project briefings, such as the French nuclear reactor maker Areva , engineering group Alstom and Westinghouse Electric Co, he added.

The government was also looking to Korean and Japanese firms. In June, Russia's atomic energy corporation Rosatom briefed Egyptian energy officials on Russian nuclear power plant technology and design in a two-day workshop.

Last year, Egypt signed a deal with Australia's WorleyParsons for a nuclear power consultancy.

The firm was due to begin looking into potential locations for the plant, Egypt's first, including updating studies on the Dabaa site on the Mediterranean coast, where Egypt planned to build a power station in the 1980s.

Younes said the studies had concluded that Dabaa was the most suitable location.

'The project is moving ahead on time. Internationally, it takes 8 to 10 years for such projects to bear fruit in developing countries and 12 to 15 in countries where nuclear projects are being set up for the first time,' he added.

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