BY TETSUO KOGURE STAFF WRITER
Japan Atomic Power Co. signed an agreement on Sept. 28 that is expected pave the way for the construction of two nuclear reactors in Vietnam.
According to the deal signed with Electricity of Vietnam (EVN), Japan Atomic Power will conduct a feasibility study, looking at the economic potential of the nuclear reactors and at their designs in the light of the weather, topography, geology and seismology of the site in Vinh Hai, Ninh Thuan province.
The study's findings will be reported to the Vietnamese side in March 2013, and the Japanese consortium hopes to have one reactor operational at the plant by 2021.
Vietnam plans to build 14 nuclear reactors by 2030. It has approved bids for four of those reactors, selecting Russian and Japanese bids to build two reactors each. Last October, Japan signed a deal with the government of Vietnam to export its nuclear technology.
Although the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has provoked calls in Japan for a rethink on exporting nuclear technology, the administration of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is backing the policy and Vietnam has said the disaster will not change its decision to import from Japan.
The contracts for the remaining 10 planned nuclear reactors in Vietnam are the focus of fierce competition among foreign bidders, with one source at a Japanese government agency in charge of economic affairs admitting that South Korea might be leading the race.
A source close to Japan-South Korea relations said that South Korea proposed a potential nuclear power agreement to Vietnam in May.
A number of countries, including emerging nations, are considering introducing nuclear power, with Japanese bidding teams known to be negotiating in Turkey and Jordan.