August 29, 2017 / 4:03 PM / 21 days ago

Brazil looks to China to finish nuclear power plant

BRASILIA, Aug 29 (Reuters) - Brazil will seek China’s expertise and financing to complete its third nuclear power plant when President Michel Temer makes a state visit to Beijing on Friday, Brazilian government officials said on Tuesday.

The Brazilian nuclear energy company Eletronuclear will sign a cooperation agreement with China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), signaling their intent to establish a partnership to finish the Angra 3 plant, the officials said.

Construction of the 1,405 megawatt reactor on the coast south of Rio de Janeiro has dragged on for three decades and its completion is now scheduled for 2023, but Brazil does not have the estimated 16 billion reais ($5 billion) needed to finish the job.

Russia is also interested in completing Angra 3 and Eletronuclear, a subsidiary of state-run electric utility Eletrobras, has held talks with the Russian nuclear monopoly Rosatom.

The Chinese corporation is expected to have the advantage in terms of abundant financial resources.

The head of Eletronuclear, Bruno Barretto, signed an initial memorandum with CNNC on the Angra 3 completion in Beijing in December when he visited Chinese banks that are potential financiers, Eletronuclear said in a statement.

Temer’s government has announced plans to privatize Eletrobras, Latin America’s largest utility. But Eletronuclear will be split off and remain in state hands under Brazil’s Constitution which establishes that nuclear facilities must be government controlled.

Temer said on Tuesday he expects China to be a major player in Brazil’s plans to modernize its ports, airports and other infrastructure projects that will be offered to investors in private concessions.

He also hopes China will finance energy projects.

“China could be one of the big investors in our plans for concessions,” he said in a video message released after he set off for Beijing, where he will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping ahead of the BRICS summit in Xiamen.

$1 = 3.1662 reais Reporting by Anthony Boadle; editing by Grant McCool

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