By Taylor Luck

AMMAN – The Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) is set to launch this month a tender for a private sector partner to help run and operate the Kingdom’s first nuclear power plant.

Energy officials are reaching out to an established international nuclear power operator to share the burden of costs and provide experience in forming a utility with the government to run and manage the plant, JAEC Chairman Khaled Toukan said at a press conference on Saturday.

On a parallel track, the nuclear commission is currently receiving bids from technology providers for the country’s first nuclear power plant, a 1,000-megawatt Generation III reactor set to be constructed at preferred sites, either in the central region or in Aqaba.

With assistance of consultant Worley Parsons, JAEC is to receive and evaluate bids from three shortlisted technology providers: AREVA and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (ATMEA1 reactor technology), Canadian AECL (CANDU 6 reactor) and Russian firm Atomstroyexport (AES-92 VVER-1000).

In the request for proposals, which was launched on January 15, JAEC asked suppliers to provide quotes on the construction of a second reactor within a few years of the first, Toukan said.

The deadline for technology bids is the end of March, with JAEC set to announce the preferred technology provider in mid-2011, said the commission. According to the set timeline, a final deal with a technology supplier is to be reached by early 2012.

The JAEC plans to have the first reactor in place in 2019.

Jordan’s nuclear programme aims to wean the country off energy imports, which costs some 19 per cent of the gross domestic product.