France Angles for Nuclear Deals in U.A.E.

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"U.A.E. debates adding nuclear power to a mostly fossil fuels energy mix."

France is seeking fresh nuclear energy contracts in the United Arab Emirates after losing out on a bid to build the country's first reactors.

"If they have other plans we will obviously bid," said Pierre Lellouche, the French foreign trade minister. "There's plenty of room, it seems, for dozens of French firms."

In 2009, a French consortium lost a bid to construct the U.A.E.'s first nuclear reactors. The contract went to a consortium led by Korea Electric Power Corporation.

But the Korean consortium is set to supply only the first three batches of the uranium that will fuel the four reactors in Abu Dhabi's Western Region, said Hamad al Kaabi, the U.A.E.'s permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

France, the U.K., U.S. and South Korea have signed nuclear co-operation agreements with the U.A.E. Those agreements form the foundation for technology and knowledge transfer in addition to opening supply routes for nuclear fuel, Mr. al Kaabi said.

France has also sought to secure nuclear contracts in Jordan and Kuwait, which began laying the foundations for nuclear energy at the same time as the U.A.E.

Mr. Lellouche cited France's legacy of nuclear power generation. "We are at the top of the league in this industry, particularly in terms of safety," he said.

Mr. Lellouche met Dr. Sultan al Jaber, the chief executive of Masdar, Abu Dhabi's clean-energy company, along with representatives from the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry before a planned visit to Saudi Arabia. The kingdom is evaluating the merits of adding nuclear power to a mostly fossil fuels energy mix to alleviate its chronic electricity shortages.

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