Riyadh receives Duwaiheen nuclear advisory bids

14 July 2023
Discussions for Saudi Arabia's first nuclear plant project are believed to be under way


State offtaker Saudi Power Procurement Company (SPPC) has received bids for the financial, legal and technical consultancy contracts to prepare and review project agreements related to the procurement of electricity from Saudi Arabia’s first nuclear power plant.

The scope extends to signing a power purchase agreement (PPA) with the project company for the planned Duwaiheen nuclear power plant, provisionally called Duwaiheen Nuclear Energy Company.

Saudi Arabia plans to build a large-scale nuclear power plant facility as part of its energy diversification agenda.

The current status of the main contract to implement the kingdom's first nuclear plant project is unclear.

Project progress

The Finance Ministry said in its 2023 annual budget statement that the kingdom received bids on 31 December 2022 for the deal to build Saudi Arabia’s first nuclear power plant.

An industry source close to the project, however, told MEED in June that the bid deadline for the contract was extended to June this year.

Another source recently indicated that discussions, rather than a formal bidding process, are proceeding for the project.

MEED earlier reported that the most likely bidders for the main contract are China National Nuclear Corporation, Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) and Russia’s Rosatom.

Neither King Abdullah City for Atomic & Renewable Energy (KA-Care) nor the apparent bidders have confirmed the bid list.

2.8GW project

The kingdom’s first planned nuclear power plant is expected to be procured using a traditional design-and-build model. 

In September 2016, MEED reported that Saudi Arabia was carrying out technical and economic feasibility studies for the first reactors, and was also looking at possible locations for the kingdom’s first nuclear project, a 2.8GW facility.

MEED reported the following year that KA-Care had received requests for information from US firm Westinghouse, France’s EDF and Russia’s Rosatom. It is understood South Korea’s Kepco and a Chinese nuclear power company had also responded to the request for qualifications for the main contract. 

Latest developments

In March 2022, Saudi Arabia announced the establishment of a holding company to develop nuclear power projects in the country.

Prince Abdullah bin Khalid bin Sultan, Saudi ambassador to Austria and permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), was quoted as saying that the holding company would develop nuclear power plants to produce electricity, desalinate seawater and for use in thermal energy applications. 

He said the kingdom is working on a framework programme for nuclear energy in 2022-27, which includes “capacity building and collaboration with international institutes for research and development”.

This followed Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman al-Saud's announcement in January 2022 that Saudi Arabia has uranium resources that it wants to exploit transparently through partnerships.

Work on advisory contracts for Saudi Arabia’s planned multibillion-dollar nuclear power projects is progressing, as MEED reported in November last year.

KA-Care awarded three separate contracts for the project's legal, technical and financial advisory works in May 2022.

It awarded a team led by UK-headquartered EY the financial advisory contract in May 2022. Legal and technical consultancy contracts for the project were awarded earlier. 

In 2018, Australia’s Worley was appointed by KA-Care for the project management office consultancy role for the nuclear energy programme. Worley is understood to have previously completed the Large Nuclear Power Plant (LNPP) site selection study for KA-Care.

Nuclear strategy

Riyadh plans to develop nuclear power through a three-pronged strategy. The majority of the nuclear power capacity will be developed through conventional, large-scale nuclear facilities, such as the one being tendered.

The kingdom also plans to develop atomic energy through a series of smaller, system-integrated modular advanced reactor technology (Smart) nuclear power plants in partnership with South Korea.

The third pillar of Saudi Arabia’s nuclear energy programme will involve mining uranium resources to fuel the plants, as highlighted earlier this year by the energy minister.

Thumbnail image: Flickr

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