Korea secured a 195-million-euro ($213.4 million) nuclear facility deal with Romania.
It is Korea’s biggest deal ever for a single nuclear facility, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, and the second nuclear facility export deal nabbed by the country under the Yoon Suk Yeol administration following the El-Dabaa project in Egypt.
On Tuesday, Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) signed a deal to build a tritium removal facility for the Cernavoda nuclear power plant, 170 kilometers (106 miles) east of Bucharest in Romania, with Nuclearelectrica (SNN), the country’s partially state-owned nuclear power company, after submitting its bid for the project in October last year.
The signing ceremony was held in central Seoul that day, with Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Lee Chang-yang, KHNP CEO Whang Joo-ho, SNN CEO Cosmin Ghita and Romanian Ambassador to Korea Cezar Manole Armeanu in attendance.
The project will run from July 2023 to August 2027.
A tritium removal facility extracts and stores tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen, from heavy-water moderator water from nuclear reactors. The Wolsong Nuclear Power Plant in Korea and Darlington Nuclear Generating Station in Canada are the only two such facilities worldwide.
The Industry Ministry estimates that orders worth 100 billion won ($76.8 million) will be placed with the local nuclear part suppliers for the Cernavoda project.
“Although the latest deal may not be that big in terms of size, a nuclear equipment export is very high-value-added, and therefore I believe that it will be of practical help for Korean suppliers,” said Whang of the KHNP during a press interview after the signing ceremony.
“In order to secure a stable supply of equipment, we will hold a briefing session for these companies, and place orders by the first half of next year,” said Whang.
The Yoon administration has focused on boosting the Korean nuclear sector with an aim to export 10 nuclear power plants by 2030, pivoting from the previous Moon Jae-in government’s phase-out policy.
In May, Prime Minister Han Duck-soo visited Romania to further bolster ties in the nuclear, infrastructure, and defense sectors, and celebrate the 15th anniversary of the establishment of the strategic partnership between the two countries.
In December last year, Lee of the Industry Ministry also met with the Romanian minister of economy and minister of energy in Seoul to pitch for a nuclear equipment deal from the country.
With the once-halted construction of the Shin-Hanul Reactor Unit 3 and 4 recently resuming as well, the Cernavoda project is expected to bring in a new inflow of cash and jobs to Korea.
Romania’s SNN recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Samsung C&T, a local construction company, to deploy NuScale Power’s small modular reactors in the country.
As Romania plans to improve one of its two nuclear reactor units at the Cernavoda plant in a 2.5-trillion-won project in 2024, Korea expects the latest deal will give it an edge for the upcoming bid as well.
“Starting with the latest project to build the tritium removal facility, I hope that the two countries will be able to extend the collaboration into the upcoming facility improvement project aimed at prolonging the lifespan of the reactors at the Cernavoda plant,” said Industry Minister Lee.
Korea won the contract for building a turbine island for the El-Dabaa power plant, 300 kilometers northwest of Cairo, in August 2022.
BY HA-NEE SHIN [email@example.com]