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Saudi Arabia in talks with 5 vendors to build its first nuclear power reactors

Riyadh — Saudi Arabia is in talks with five vendors, including US-based Westinghouse, to build its first nuclear power plant with two reactors, according to an energy ministry presentation.

The other companies in the discussions are France's EDF, Russia's Rosatom, South Korea's KEPCO and China National Nuclear Corp, according to the presentation, shown Wednesday at the Future Investment Initiative conference taking place in Riyadh Saudi Arabia wants to develop a civil nuclear industry and renewable energy to free up oil burned to produce power for export.

Saudi Energy Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman has previously said the kingdom would like to enrich its own uranium resources to produce nuclear energy.

However, outgoing US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry cast doubt last week on the kingdom's ability to process that uranium because of its quality and quantity.

Saudi Arabia will be the second Persian Gulf state to build nuclear plants after neighboring UAE, which is building four nuclear reactors that will collectively produce 1,400 MW of electricity.

Kepco won the $20 billion contract to construct the UAE reactors, whose start-up has been delayed.

-- Claudia Carpenter,

-- Dania Saadi, dania.el.saadi@spglobal

-- Edited by James Leech,