UAE power project nuked

UAE delays first nuclear power project until March...

The UAE, which planned to award the Arabian Gulf's first nuclear power contracts this year, has delayed the project, an official from one of the bidding companies said.

"We've been told that they're postponing it until March," Meena Mutyala, vice president for global growth at Westinghouse Electric Co, the US nuclear subsidiary of Toshiba Corp, said in an interview in Mumbai on Thursday.

"We're not sure of the reason. They said they needed more time to evaluate."

It was not clear if the delay was because of Dubai's debt crisis, she said.

A spokesperson for the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corp, responsible for implementing the UAE's nuclear programme, declined to comment.

Westinghouse is part of a South Korean group led by Korea Electric Power Corp. bidding for a contract to build nuclear plants in the UAE. The fourth-biggest OPEC producer is turning to nuclear power to meet growing electricity demand as the country exports more of its natural gas, constraining domestic supply.

Power demand in the nation will double to 40,000 megawatts by 2020, Anwar Gargash, the minister of state for foreign affairs, said on November 16.

Westinghouse is competing against a French consortium led by Electricite de France SA and a group led by General Electric Co.

The UAE's nuclear programme may propel other Arab Gulf states, including the world's biggest oil producer, Saudi Arabia, to seek similar technology, a Chatham House report said on November 10. The Sunni-led Gulf monarchies may also seek to counter Iran's nuclear developments as they fear that country's Shiite clerical regime, the report's author Ian Jackson wrote.

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