JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s energy minister, Khalid Al-Falih, visited South Korea’s Atomic Energy Research Institute on Saturday as part of a three-day visit to the country.
Al-Falih met 48 Saudi engineers from King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE), who are in Daejeon in South Korea to help develop the System-integrated Modular Advanced Reactor Technology (SMART) project.
KACARE entered into a joint venture with the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) to prepare engineering designs for the reactor with training programs in a range of nuclear energy fields, including reactor design.
Al-Falih also toured the KAERI Institute, visiting the testing center, and the reactor’s control and simulator room.
The reactor scheme is part of a Saudi national atomic energy project approved by the Cabinet last year to develop compact nuclear reactors so that the Kingdom can diversify the energy sources in line with Vision 2030.
KACARE and the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute signed a pre-project engineering agreement in September 2015 that will remain in effect until November 2018.
Earlier, Al-Falih met South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy, Paik Un-gyu, to expand bilateral cooperation in energy and other key sectors.
Al-Falih said the Kingdom hoped to jointly develop small or medium-sized reactors with South Korea. It was also willing to invest in the joint development of electric and other future-oriented vehicles.
Saudi Arabia has received requests for information from five countries — South Korea, China, US, France and Russia — to build two nuclear reactors.
If South Korea wins the bid, it will be their second nuclear export deal in the Middle East. In 2009, a consortium led by state-run utility Korea Electric Power Corp. secured its first nuclear exports deal, a $20 billion contract with the UAE.