UAE Denies $40bn Nuclear Deal on the Way

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"The winner will take it all, the bid was for two reactors originally but then they (UAE) wanted four and maybe six. . ."

The UAE denied that it was days away from awarding the largest ever energy contract in the Middle East for the development of a nuclear power plant.

The denial was issued after industry sources said that the UAE was on the verge of naming a winner for the contract to build at least four reactors, which consultancy Eurasia Group estimates may cost as much as $40 billion (BD15bn).

The consortium from France, which includes nuclear group Areva, GdF Suez and Total, is in pole position to win the contract, sources said.

"We think we are still well positioned to win it; we have the nuclear expertise," a source from the French group said.

"The winner will take it all, the bid was for two reactors originally but then they (UAE) wanted four and maybe six, whoever wins gets the whole package."

"A major deal with the French government would fit within the UAE's diversification plans in terms of both energy and security," the Eurasia Group said

President Nicolas Sarkozy was in the UAE in May to open a military base, and some analysts saw the visit as enhancing the French consortium's prospects of winning the contract.

"France is already a major partner to UAE in the defence area and I wouldn't be surprised if they are leading in the bid now," said Christian Koch, director of international relations at the Gulf Research Centre.

Record oil revenues have driven an economic boom that has strained domestic power grids in the UAE, and to keep the export cash coming in, Abu Dhabi is looking to nuclear energy to help cap fuel burned for power at home, analysts said.

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