Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec), which is building four new nuclear reactors in Abu Dhabi’s Western Region, yesterday named the chief executive and board for a new unit created to operate the plants.
The development of the nuclear site at Barakah, which lies a bit more than 300 kilometres to the west of Abu Dhabi city, is being closely watched internationally as the first nuclear project in the Arab world, and one of the first new nuclear programmes in decades.
Enec said its operating subsidiary, Nawah Energy Company, would be led by the acting chief executive Mohammed Sahoo Al Suwaidi, who until recently was the head of Adnoc’s gas directorate.
Nawah is tasked with all operations of Barakah’s reactors, which are scheduled to come onstream between next year and 2020.
The first objective is to obtain operating licenses from the UAE’s Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (Fanr), which requires meeting strict international safety and emergency response codes. The applications for licenses for the first two units were filed early last year.
Separately, last month Fanr signed a three-year deal with the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, to give the UAE access to a variety of closely guarded tools for handling radioactive materials – the Radiation Protection Computer Code Analysis and Maintenance Programme (RAMP), which are computer codes that allow analysts to assess radiation releases.
Enec’s chairman, Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, said the creation of Nawah will allow the parent company to concentrate on the construction project and other strategic issues.
Enec’s chief executive, Mohamed Al Hammad, added: “Enec will focus on the strategic growth of the nuclear industry across the UAE, its responsibilities as project owner of Barakah and shareholder of Nawah, and the safe and quality-driven delivery and commissioning of the Barakah project.”
The Barakah units are APR1400 designs that are being built by a consortium led by Korea Electric Power Corporation, which in February began to ramp up the prototype unit at Shin Kori, South Korea, after a number of faults delayed it by two years.
Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power in March agreed to send dozens of staff to the UAE to help with the commissioning of the first unit at Barakah.
The Barakah project is a unique blend of Korean, American and other international and Emirati staff and expertise.
“Our vision for Nawah is to become a globally recognised leading nuclear energy utility,” Mr Al Suwaidi said.
“We will be constantly reflecting on high performance of our Emirati leaders, multinational and multicultural teams. Safety is the overriding priority.”
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