POWER UTILITY | Staff Reporter, Korea

KEPCO's big boss eyes boosting exports of Korean nuclear reactors

The firm was recently chosen as preferred bidder for Toshiba's NuGen unit.

According to the country's news agency, the new head of the state-run Korea Electric Power Corp. said he will focus on exporting Korean-designed nuclear reactors abroad.

"We will continue to make efforts to expand exports of nuclear reactors and other energy projects," Kim Jong-kap said during his inauguration ceremony at the company's headquarters in Naju, South Jeolla Province. "We will have to strive to explore new growth engines."

In December, KEPCO was selected as a preferred bidder for Toshiba's NuGen unit, which is behind the Moorside nuclear project in Cumbria, northwest England.

If finalized, it would be the second overseas project won by KEPCO after the US$20 billion deal in 2009 to build four commercial reactors in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

KEPCO is also eyeing a nuclear project in Saudi Arabia as the Middle Eastern nation plans to build two nuclear reactors going forward.

Saudi Arabia, the world's largest crude oil exporter, has received requests for information from five nations -- South Korea, China, the United States, France and Russia -- according to local reports.

Kim, the former head of Siemens Ltd. Seoul, a South Korean unit of the German conglomerate, also said he will undertake emergency management of the company to enhance the company's profitability.

Operating profits at KEPCO fell 58.7 percent last year from the previous year amid soaring energy prices and rising costs for the maintenance of nuclear reactors by the Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. (KHNP), South Korea's atomic energy operator affiliated with KEPCO.

The 67-year-old was chosen as the new KEPCO head on Tuesday at a shareholders meeting to fill the post, which had been vacant for the past five months.

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