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International nuclear aspirations for KEPCO intact

The state-run Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) plans to accelerate its international presence as part of a move to diversify the utility’s portfolio and create new growth drivers.

“KEPCO’s business model centres on providing electricity in the domestic market and its overseas business has been an additional source of profit, but we are looking at promising new business opportunities abroad,” the company’s CEO, Jong-kap Kim, told reporters.

Taking up the position as CEO in April this year, one of Kim’s main objectives is to salvage the company from losses. The company logged 4.95 trillion won ($4.347 billion) in operating profit in 2017, down 58.7% from a year earlier.

Yesterday, he spoke openly at a briefing on the sidelines of the company’s Bitgaram International Expo of Electric Power Technology held in Gwangju, 330km south of Seoul.

“KEPCO has been doing well in overseas business over the last 23 years and I want to expand global business based on this expertise.”

In the short term, KEPCO has been stepping up marketing efforts in Saudi Arabia to win a second nuclear project in the Middle Eastern nation, following a $20 billion contract with the United Arab Emirates in 2009, reported Yonhap News Agency.

KEPCO nuclear deals

In July, KEPCO was shortlisted to bid for Saudi’s first nuclear project, along with rivals from the US, France, Russia and China.

“Though the schedule has been delayed, Saudi Arabia is expected to pick one preferred bidder by the end of next year,” Kim said.

He added that the utility is seeking ways to collaborate with Saudi Arabian companies and train local staff as part of its “localisation” strategy.

In Britain, KEPCO has been in prolonged talks with Toshiba over a nuclear power plant project in Moorside. Read more: Toshiba wins the contract in Aioi to retrofit steam turbine for fuel conversion project

The Korean utility firm was named as a preferred bidder in December but lost the status in July after the British government’s decision to change profit models for the project.

Unlike the UAE project, which only involves the construction of nuclear reactors, Kim said the Moorside project is risky as KEPCO has to provide financial solutions as well as a profitable business model.

“We are taking extra caution (on the Moorside project) as KEPCO will need 10 years to build a nuclear power plant and sell electricity for 60 years to get a return on the investment,” Kim said.

Nicolette Pombo-van Zyl
As the Editor of ESI Africa, my passion is on sustainability and placing African countries on the international stage. I take a keen interest in the trends shaping the power & water utility market along with the projects and local innovations making headline news. Watch my short weekly video on our YouTube channel ESIAfricaTV and speak with me on what has your attention.