Daniel Dombey Financial Times
Turkey is in the final stages of deciding a showpiece nuclear power tender, with the choice resting between Japan and China.
The project, expected to be worth more than $20bn, has taken longer than expected to decide, with Turkey’s insistence on financial guarantees from the contactors or their home nations proving a key point of discussion.
“The competition continues. We are still in talks with China and Japan,” said Taner Yildiz, Turkey’s energy minister. “China and Japan are keen for the project.” He added that South Korea had pulled out of the tender because of problems over a treasury guarantee. A Canadian bid had previously pulled out.
Mr Yildiz added that Turkey had told South Korea that the question of a treasury guarantee was one of Turkey’s “red lines” for the project, and that “very intensive meetings with China and Japan are approaching the end.”
Japan’s Nikkei business daily had reported earlier on Thursday that Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and France’s Areva had won the order, citing Japanese and Turkish sources.
The newspaper said the Turkish energy ministry had informed Japanese government and corporate officials of the decision to award the deal to build four pressurised water nuclear reactors with a combined capacity of about 4.5 gigawatts at Sinop on the Black Sea, the report said.
Russia is already building Turkey’s first nuclear power plant on the Mediterranean, assuming all of the financial cost in return for guaranteed energy prices.
China has recently been seen as a favourite for the second plant, largely because of its willingness to assume the financial burden.
But Beijing has limited experience in building nuclear power stations abroad, apart from in Pakistan, while the government of Shinzo Abe, Japanese prime minister, may be willing to reconsider Japan’s position on state guarantees.
Turkey is also likely to consider Areva’s participation in a more favourable light because of the French government’s recent decision to drop its block on a part of Ankara’s negotiations to join the European Union.
Before François Hollande replaced Nicolas Sarkozy as French president last year, relations between Ankara and Paris were much more strained.
Nikkei added that the Turkish government had approached Japan about a summit meeting between Mr Abe and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, in early May, after which it was likely to officially grant preferred negotiating rights to the Mitsubishi-Areva consortium.
Mitsubishi Heavy declined to comment.
Mr Yildiz said Turkey wanted to build a nuclear power plant that could resist a magnitude nine earthquake. Turkey, like Japan, is in a fault zone.