Japanese-French led group to build Turkish nuclear plant

A Japanese-French consortium has won a $22 billion dollar contract to build a nuclear power plant on Turkey's Black Sea coast, a senior energy ministry official said on Thursday.

"An inter-governmental agreement is expected to be signed between the prime ministers of both countries (Turkey and Japan) on Friday," the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The consortium will include Japan's Mitsubishi and power supplier Itochu, French energy company GDF-Suez and a Turkish company to be determined, according to an industrial source close to the consortium.

French energy company Areva will supply the reactor in connection with Mitsubishi, the source said.

The deal to build Turkey's second nuclear plant marks Japan's first successful bid for an overseas project since the nuclear disaster in Fukushima.

In an interview on Thursday in Japan's Nikkei business daily, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is to host Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe on Friday, said that Turkey had faith in Japan's nuclear industry and believed it had learned from the tsunami-triggered nuclear disaster at Fukushima in 2011.

Like Japan, Turkey lies in an earthquake-prone region.

The deal for the plant in Sinop could lead to further nuclear deals for Japanese firms, the prime minister added.

"The country wants to have as many reactors as possible in operation by 2023," Erdogan told Nikkei.

The Sinop plant will comprise four reactors with a combined output of 4,800 megawatts, according to the energy ministry official, who did not say when the generator would be completed.

Turkey, which relies heavily on gas and oil imports from Russia and Iran, wants to build a total of three nuclear power plants to reduce its dependence on foreign energy.

In 2010, Ankara struck a deal with Russia to build the country's first power plant at Akkuyu, in southern Turkey.

The Chinese company, China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding Co, was another frontrunner in the Sinop project.

Yildiz declined to comment why it was eliminated but said: "With the projects it has developed, China will continue to be an important partner not only of Turkey but of the world. They made a very serious and important contribution to this competition."

Last month, Yildiz rapped the US absence in the lucrative tender, saying it did not bode well for commitments between the two allies.

"If we are not building the nuclear power plant with America, which strategic project will we handle with them," he asked.

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