Russia to build Jordan’s first $10bn nuclear power plant

Amman, Jordan (Reuters / Muhammad Hamed)
Russia has signed a $10 billion agreement with Jordan for the construction of the country’s first nuclear power plant. Jordan currently lacks local energy sources and struggles to meet its growing electricity demand.

The agreement between Russia's state-run Rosatom and the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission was signed on Tuesday in Amman. The contract is for the construction of a two-unit 2,000 megawatt power plant in the north of the country by 2022.

"I would like to stress that Rosatom and the entire Russian nuclear sector take Jordan’s invitation to build its first nuclear plant as a big trust," Rosatom chief Sergey Kiriyenko said, adding that cooperation with Jordan would open the door for future nuclear fuel supply deals. "The nuclear power plant is the embodiment of a strategic partnership.”

Jordan imports around 95 percent of its energy needs, at a cost of about 20 percent of its GDP, according to the data from the World Nuclear Association. Practically all the electricity generated in Jordan today comes from power plants using imported oil and gas. The demand for electricity is growing by more than seven percent annually due to a rising population and industrial expansion. Jordan wants to develop nuclear power to meet the increasing demand.

"As you know, we lost the oil from Iraq, natural gas from Egypt, and the country has been bleeding and losing on an average $3 billion every year," Khalid Toukan, head of the Jordanian Atomic Energy Commission was cited as saying by Al Jazeera. He also added that nuclear power was definitely one of the solutions the country needed to graduate from its total dependency on oil and gas.

"The Russian technology we chose in a very competitive process suits Jordan's needs in terms of power generation and the ability to produce electricity at very competitive prices," Toukan told a news conference.

READ MORE: Russia to build first nuclear power plant in Jordan

Rosatom won the tender for the construction of the nuclear plant in Jordan in November 2013, beating a Japanese-French consortium of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Areva.

The nuclear plant is expected to satisfy Jordan's entire electricity demand and possibly export electricity to Syria and Iraq. Its first unit is to be commissioned in 2024, and the second in 2026.

The $10 billion project will be the biggest Russian-Jordanian deal. Jordan will own a controlling stake by providing 50.1 percent of the funding with the rest of the money coming from Russia.

READ MORE: Russia to help Egypt build ‘a whole new nuclear power industry’ – Putin

Last month, Russia and Egypt signed a memorandum of understanding to build that country’s first nuclear power plant during President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Cairo.

Also this year Rosatom agreed to build two reactors in Hungary and plans to build more facilities in Iran in addition to the Bushehr plant Russia completed in 2011.