Nuclear Battle: Japan vs. South Korea

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"Asia is quickly becoming the epicenter of global nuclear power investment."

As the world looks to alternative energy supplies, the nuclear energy sector is getting a lot of attention. The "nuclear renaissance" as some in the industry call it has sparked a race amongst energy-hungry Asian nations to procure reliable uranium fuel supplies around the globe.

"Uranium in particular stands to benefit from the nuclear renaissance, in our view, which appears to be kicking into high gear," says Bart Jaworski, analyst at Raymond James.

Japan, which obtains 65% of its energy from nuclear power, has found itself competing with its neighbors not only for uranium deposits but also for international nuclear power plant contracts. State-owned Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO)-led nuclear energy consortium recently beat out the Japanese competition for a $20 billion deal with the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

If Japan wishes to compete with emerging nuclear leaders like South Korea it will need to rethink the way it does business.

Asia is quickly becoming the epicenter of global nuclear power investment. China, India, Japan and South Korea are already home to well-established nuclear energy programs and other Asian nations including Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam are looking to start their own.

Asia's utilities companies are now rushing to secure fuel supplies buy purchasing stakes in uranium mining firms around the globe.

South Korea's ambitious plans include raising its uranium self-sufficiency ratio from 6.7% this year to 25% by 2016 and 50% by 2030 as the world's fourth-largest oil importer looks to reduce its dependence on foreign crude.

"We have to purchase uranium worth 10 trillion won ($8.5 billion). If we could secure 50%. . .then we are to have another business unit worth 5 trillion won," said KEPCO CEO Kim Ssang-soo.

Japan is also aggressively hunting uranium on a global scale to power its 54 reactors and the 10 more planned to come online over the next decade.

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