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Japan, Kuwait agree nuclear energy cooperation

Japan is stepping up efforts to tap the nuclear power development market.


September 8, 2010 1:26 by

Japan agreed with Kuwait on Wednesday to cooperate in capacity building for peaceful use of nuclear energy generation in the Gulf nation, raising the prospect of lucrative deals for Japanese companies.

Kuwait, the world’s No.4 oil exporter, is facing rising energy demand and agreed with France in April on cooperation in developing nuclear energy.

Japan, the world’s third-biggest nuclear power generator after the United States and France, is stepping up efforts to tap the nuclear power development market after a Japan-U.S. consortium lost out to South Korea in a deal to build and operate nuclear reactors for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in December.

Japan has not yet won a project-based package like the UAE deal in the nuclear energy sector.

Developing and operating nuclear power plants abroad is a growth strategy in Japan, where electricity demand is expected to stay flat or rise slightly at best due to industries shifting abroad and the graying of society.

In July, a consortium of six Japanese utilities and nuclear power machinery makers set up a working group to create a venture this autumn aimed at winning orders to build nuclear power plants overseas.

Japan made a similar government-to-government agreement with Malaysia earlier this month. The accord with Kuwait on sharing know-how on public acceptance and other expertise brings the total number of such deals since 2007 to 10, including those with Kazakhstan, Indonesia, Vietnam, UAE and Jordan.

An official at Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) said Kuwait has been slow to come up with detailed plans on nuclear power generation.

“Unlike Vietnam and Jordan, where selection of projects is about to start, there are few details available from Kuwait on its plans such as when, where and how many reactors they need,” the METI official said.

(Reporting by Risa Maeda; Editing by Michael Watson)


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