(Refiles to clarify in para 7 that it refers to September last year)
* Saudi Arabia getting ready to launch nuclear tender
* Korean group, French EDF already expressed interest
* Russia’s Rosatom major global reactor supplier
By Geert De Clercq
PARIS, Nov 2 (Reuters) - State-owned Russian nuclear group Rosatom has sent initial proposals to Saudi Arabia for nuclear power generation and would bid if a tender was announced, the company said on Thursday.
Saudi Arabia has sent a “request for information” to vendors to build two nuclear reactors in a first step towards a formal tender, sources told Reuters this week.
“Rosatom has expressed its interest and sent its initial proposals to the Saudi Arabia nuclear authorities. We are looking forward to the tender and are ready to take part in such a great project,” a Rosatom spokesman told Reuters.
Saudi Arabia is considering building 17.6 gigawatts (GW) of nuclear capacity by 2032, the equivalent of about 17 reactors, making it one of the biggest prospects for an industry struggling after the 2011 nuclear disaster in Japan.
Saudi Arabia - the world’s biggest exporter of oil - wants to reduce the amount of crude it burns at home to generate electricity so it can sell more of it overseas.
After Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak met Saudi King Salman in Riyadh to discuss global oil prices on Thursday, the Russian Energy Ministry’s Twitter feed quoted Novak saying that “cooperation on the peaceful atom could be key”.
Rosatom said in September last year that it was “ready to build 16 nuclear power plants in Saudi Arabia” at a cost of $100 billion under a 2015 intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with the country.
Rosatom has IGAs with dozens of countries and many do not lead to contracts, but following the financial troubles of French Areva and Toshiba-owned Westinghouse, it has become a dominant player in the global nuclear industry.
Rosatom has built reactors in several former Soviet countries as well as in China and India. It also has contracts to build reactors in Finland, Turkey, Argentina, Bangladesh and other countries.
Industry sources have told Reuters that Saudi Arabia has reached out to vendors from South Korea, China, France, Russia, Japan and the United States for its first two reactors.
An executive at Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co (KHNP) told Reuters on Tuesday that South Korean firms would bid as a group for the Saudi nuclear project.
A consortium led by Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) is building four reactors in the United Arab Emirates, with the first due to start in 2018, making the UAE the first Gulf Arab state to use nuclear power.
French EDF said last month it was in talks with Saudi Arabia about supplying reactors. Other potential vendors are Westinghouse and China’s CGN. (Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Susan Fenton and Edmund Blair)