Jordan nuclear project: the players and the threats

Jordan nuclear project: the players and the threats

 

Jordan is facing the obstacle of the commercial offer from Rosatom. The Russian company is the only one interested in this market, therefore the interest rate from the Russian loan is much. For example, in Egypt it is 3% while in Jordan it is 8%.

Jordan cannot afford such a large debt. The Jordanian government is expecting to negotiate a loan at 5.5% maximum.

The initial agreement between Jordan and Russia was  5 billion USD per unit but this amount is subject to increase either due to currency differences between the time of signature of the agreement and the start time of implementation as well as inflation and debt. If Jordan would accept an interest rate of 8%, the country will have pay an extra 150 million USD annually. Given the cost of the project over 10 years, the financial increase on the original amount would be  2 billion USD for only one reactor.

 

The project in Jordan is based on two units of 1000 MW reactor, with a construction to start in 2021 and to finish in 2027. It is a Build Own Transfer (BOT) model. In parallel to this project the country plans to build two small reactors every 4 to 5 years.

Another important aspect in the existing negotiation with Russia is the technology transfer. Jordan plans to operate a nuclear plant that is Jordanian, not a Russian project in the Kingdom. The government complains that Jordanian students in Russia do not have any access to Russian laboratories or any other institutions and their level cannot match the French or Korean,

Jordan is not only interested to buy a nuclear reactor. It is important for the country to build knowledge around and the potential opportunities for the national economy. The knowledge and human resources that Jordan can acquire in the field of nuclear energy will help the supply chain to provide services to the surrounding countries in the field of nuclear energy in the future, such as the establishment of the research reactor.

Except Russia, Jordan is also looking to deal with China, its second preferred choice, due to the financing power. Other countries are also looking in this market, such as the UK and South Korea, mostly for the small reactors.  The USA stopped their agreement with Jordan in 2008, in order to prevent uranium enrichment in the country.

 

The Chinese option

 

China signed an agreement to provide a reactor in 2007, but the technology was quite old. Therefore Jordan turned to Russia. However China National Nuclear Corporation has been in negotiation with Jordan since 2015. China agreed to invest 5 to 6 billion USD in the conventional island and Balance of Plant from Rosatom offer, with the same interest rate as the Russians.

CNNC is now ready to build a reactor in another site, but did not give the commercial offer. Its initial cost is only 4 billion USD. I think the Jordanian government will open the way for the Chinese side to compete with the Russian side.

 

In order to increase its investment power, Jordan is discussing with its neighbouring countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Lebanon or Syria to share the economic burden and get a piece of electricity, but Saudi Arabia and Egypt have their own nuclear reactor projects, which means that options are limited, perhaps limited to Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and possibly Palestine.

About Author

Arnaud Lefevre

Arnaud Lefevre is the Chief Executive Officer of Dynatom International. Arnaud is in charge of the international development of the business portfolio.