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Report: Turkey, Japan discuss speeding up nuclear plant construction in Sinop

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Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a telephone call on Thursday discussed speeding up construction of a nuclear power plant in the Black Sea province of Sinop, Reuters reported, citing a Turkish presidential source.

Dependent on imports for its energy needs, Turkey currently has projects for two nuclear plants, which are expected to both cost $20 billion, according to the Turkish Energy Ministry’s website.

For the planned Sinop nuclear plant, the contract was awarded in 2013 to a consortium of Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 7011.T, Itochu Corp. and France’s GDF Suez.

The plan is to build four reactors with a total output of 4,500 megawatts (MW) in the Black Sea coastal city of Sinop, using Atmea1 reactors Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is developing with France’s Areva. Though the goal is to put the first reactor into service in 2023, in time for Turkey’s centennial, a cost overrun problem related to safety measures after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011 could cause that date to slip.

The estimated costs for the project have ballooned to more than 5 trillion yen ($46.2 billion) from 2 trillion yen in 2013, the Nikkei Asian Review reported in April.

Japanese trading house Itochu is pulling out of the project in Turkey due to the surge in safety-related costs, casting uncertainty over the plant’s future, according to Nikkei.

Itochu was jointly conducting a feasibility study with its consortium partners, which Mitsubishi Heavy and other investors in the consortium have already extended until this summer.

The consortium originally had said the reactor would be ready by 2023.

In 2011, Russian company Rosatom was contracted to build and operate a 4,800 MW nuclear power plant in the southern province of Mersin, which is slated to be the Turkey’s first nuclear power plant.

The project has been beset by delays since Rosatom was awarded the contract, but in April of this year, Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin marked the start of construction during Putin’s visit to Ankara.

Putin said the plant was set to come online in 2023.

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