Japan to abandon Turkey nuclear project due to increasing costs

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Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (L) and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan AFP PHOTOS

Japan is set to scrap a Turkish nuclear power project that had been projected as a model for Tokyo’s export of infrastructure due to increasing costs, Reuters and Deutsche Welle Turkish service reported on Tuesday citing the Nikkei newspaper.

The cost of the project, a public-private consortium led by Japan, nearly doubled its original estimate to around ¥5 trillion ($44 billion), making it difficult for lead builder Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd and its partners to continue, according to the report.

The increase in cost was mainly due to higher safety requirements following the 2011 meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and a weaker Turkish lira, Nikkei said.

In accordance with a protocol signed by then-Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2013, the project was undertaken under Japan’s leadership by a Japanese-French consortium with an initially estimated cost of $22 billion.

With construction projected to start in the northern Turkish province of Sinop in 2017, the first reactor of the project was expected to become operational in 2023.

At the beginning of this year, Japanese Itouchu company had announced its withdrawal from the project due to increased costs.

Mitsubish Heavy Industries’ announcement said the company is currently evaluating feasibility studies submitted by the Turkish government.

Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko held a press conference today and announced that Japan is “in the middle of negotiations” with the Turkish government.

Besides the project in Sinop, Turkey partnered with Russian companies for a nuclear power plant in the southern province of Mersin and, most recently, announced over the summer that it will proceed with Chinese partnership for the construction of a third nuclear plant in Thrace, a northwestern region that borders Greece.

Environmentalists have strongly criticized Turkey’s plans for nuclear plants due to their potential hazards; however, the Turkish government insists generating nuclear energy will reduce the country’s energy dependency on suppliers such as Russia, Iran and Iraqi Kurdistan.

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