Russia’s state-owned nuclear agency Rosatom will build a nuclear power plant for Jordan, the first nuclear facility in the electricity-starved Arab kingdom.
The two countries signed a $10bn contract on Tuesday that prepares the ground for a 2,000 megawatt plant to be built at Amra, north Jordan, with an expected launch date set for 2022.
Jordan is currently covering almost 98 per cent of its energy needs through oil and gas imports from neighbouring countries and is continuously struggling to meet the electricity demands of its growing population and developing industry. It is estimated that Jordan’s electricity needs are growing by 7 per cent a year.
"The Russian technology we chose in a very competitive process suits Jordan's needs in terms of power generation and the ability to produce electricity at very competitive prices," said Khaled Toukan, chairman of the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC).
As part of the deal, Rosatom, which maintains that its reactors are among the safest in the world, will carry out a feasibility study, site evaluation and environmental impact assessment.
Jordan announced in October 2013 that Russia was its preferred bidder for the nuclear power station, which is a part of the country’s efforts to increase its energy independence.
The country announced a $15bn plan of investment into renewable and nuclear energy as part of its National Energy Strategy for 2007 to 2020 and hopes nuclear power could provide up to 40 per cent of its electricity generating capacity.
Russia will provide two reactors for Amra with the first coming on line in 2022 and the second two years later. The cost of the development will be covered jointly, with Jordan paying 51 per cent and Russia contributing the remaining 49 per cent.
According to Rosatom’s chief executive, Sergey Kiriyenko, cooperation with Jordan will open the door for future nuclear fuel supply deals.
"The nuclear power plant is the embodiment of a strategic partnership," Kiriyenko said.
In the wake of the crisis in Ukraine and the worsening relationships with the west, Russia has been looking for new markets for its technology.
Last month, Moscow and Cairo signed a memorandum of understanding to build Egypt's first nuclear power plant during Vladimir Putin's visit to Egypt.
Rosatom also signed an agreement earlier this year to build two reactors in Hungary and hopes to build more reactors in Iran in addition to the Bushehr plant launched there in 2011.
Rosatom's investment programme, sourced from Russia's state budget, allows it to spend about $300-$350bn per year to build nuclear plants in Russia and abroad.
In 2013, Russia won a contract to build the first nuclear power plant in Turkey. The project has, however, been heavily delayed due to regulatory hurdles and will most likely miss its 2022 completion deadline.
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