• Russian nuclear provider Rosatom is currently finalising construction and financing contracts with Cairo
  • El-Dabaa nuclear plant is expected to have four reactors of 1,200MW each

Russian nuclear provider Rosatom is in final negotiations with the Egyptian government to build and finance the El-Dabaa nuclear power plant in Egypt.

Speaking to MEED in Abu Dhabi on 13 October, Anton Moskvin, vice-president for marketing and business development at Rosatom, said Russia was in the final stages of commercial and technical negotiations for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract to build the plant. The Egyptian finance ministry is close to finalising intergovernmental agreements for financing for the project, he added.

“We are expecting that the agreements will be finalised and signed by the end of the year,” said Moskvin.

In February, Egypt’s President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to cooperate on nuclear power, which was followed closely by a project development for the El-Dabaa scheme.

With Egypt having set a target for introducing nuclear energy into its power sector by 2022, if the target is to be met then it is vital that the construction and financing agreements are finalised without delay.

The El-Dabaa nuclear power plant is expected to have four reactors of 1,200MW each. According to Rosatom, preliminary site works could begin before the end of 2015 if the negotiations are concluded.

Egypt’s nuclear programme was given fresh impetus following the election of Al-Sisi in May 2014. In his presidential inauguration speech on 9 June 2014, he announced that the El-Dabaa nuclear project was a key government priority.

At the Egypt Economic Development Conference in March this year, electricity minister Mohamed Shaker said the government was planning to build 2-4GW for the country’s first nuclear programme.

Shaker said if plans move ahead, Cairo would procure the plant through a strategic partnership, rather than through a competitive tendering process.

Egypt was one of the first countries in the world to consider using nuclear energy for power. In 1955, it set up its Atomic Energy Commission, which became the Atomic Energy Authority the following year.

Cairo made its first serious moves toward nuclear power in the 1980s and by 1985, the Nuclear Power Plant Authority (NPPA) had received bids for the main construction contracts to build a plant at El-Dabaa, 160 kilometres west of Alexandria. However, the plans were shelved following the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine in 1986.

In 2007, the nuclear programme was revived, as planners sought to reduce Egypt’s dependence on natural gas.

In 2009, Australia’s WorleyParsons was awarded a contract to work as the lead consultant on the project, starting with selection of the site and technology, going through the tendering process and supervision of construction.

The preferred bidder for the contract was Bechtel of the US, but the two sides failed to resolve differences in negotiations about terms.

Stay informed with the latest in the Middle East
Download the MEED app today, available on Apple and Android devices