A joint venture between U.S. and Japanese firms Westinghouse Electric Co., Toshiba Corp. and Exelon Nuclear Partners announced a memorandum of understanding, joining what already is fierce international competition for the contracts to build the first nuclear power plants for Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, announced in 2011 it would build 16 power plants over the next 20 years, at a cost of more than $80 billion. The push to develop solar and nuclear energy comes in response to soaring domestic electricity consumption that, at its current rate, would make Saudi Arabia an oil importer by 2030, according to projections by Citigroup, by the British think-tank Chatham House, and others.
Saudi Arabia since 2011 has signed nuclear-cooperation agreements with France, South Korea, Argentina, and China, among others, according to the nuclear industry's World Nuclear Organization.
Companies or governments from those countries and from Russia, Britain and Saudi Arabia are among those that have already expressed interest in competing for Saudi's nuclear business, or are expected to. General Electric Co. and Hitachi formed a joint venture in 2010 to pursue nuclear contracts in the kingdom.
Saudi officials have said they will begin seeking information from potential contractors on the project in early 2014.
Zawya Dow Jones