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Australian Firm To Run Armenian Nuclear Project


Armenia -- Nuclear Power Plant in Metsamor, undated

An Australian engineering company has been chosen to manage the planned construction of a new nuclear power station that should replace Armenia’s aging Metsamor plant by 2017, officials said on Thursday.

The Armenian government called a corresponding international tender late last year as it pressed ahead with the implementation of the extremely ambitious project that will require billions of dollars in funding.

A spokesman for the State Procurements Agency, which has administered the tender, told RFE/RL that only two foreign companies took part in it and that one of them, the Sydney-based Worley Parsons, was judged to have submitted a better bid. “In the next 15 days negotiations will be held with the winner over the signing of an agreement,” he said. “The final cost [of Worley’s services] will be decided during those negotiations.”

Torpashian could not say if Worley Parsons will not only design but also build the new plant’s reactor. The Armenian Energy Ministry declined to provide any information on that score.

With a market capitalization of approximately $3 billion as of June 2008, Worley Parsons is one of the world’s largest providers of engineering services to the energy and other industries. The company has operating offices in 14 countries, including Russia.

President Serzh Sarkisian said in October that work on the new nuclear plant will start “in the coming months.” It is still not clear, however, just when the construction will get underway. The government has yet to attract funding for the project. A U.S.-funded feasibility study conducted last year estimated its total cost at as much as $5 billion.

Energy Minister Armen Movsisian assured Armenian parliamentarians last month that many foreign countries and companies have show interest in the project. But he did not name any of them. Armenian officials had hinted earlier that Russian companies will be placed to build the new plant.

With a projected capacity of 1,000-1,200 megawatts, the new facility would be more than twice as powerful as Metsamor’s stole operating reactor that generates more than 40% of Armenia’s electricity. The Soviet-built reactor is due to be decommissioned in 2017.
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