Setting up in Abu Dhabi to support the Braka nuclear power plant project

The development of a nuclear power plant with 4 generation III reactors APR1400 at Braka in the western region of the emirate of Abu Dhabi, is about to start after a long legal and tendering process took place.


Before initiating its civil nuclear program the UAE have ratified the international treaties that underline the transparency and peaceful aspects of its project. Among the adopted texts are: Decree No. (38) of 1996 Concerning The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (1968); Federal Decree No. (84) of 2000 regarding the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (1996) and protocol; Federal Decree No. (66) of 2003 regarding the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material; Federal Decree No. (46) of 2003 regarding the Agreement between the United Arab Emirates and International Atomic Energy Agency for the Application of Safeguards in Connection with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and the Additional Protocol (2009); and Federal Decree No. (95) of 2007 regarding the international Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism;

The framework for the start of nuclear activities in the UAE has been given by the Federal Law N 6 of 2009 (“Nuclear Law”) concerning the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

The nuclear law creates a public authority, the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR). It is an independent federal agency charged with regulating and licensing all nuclear energy activities in the UAE with public safety as its primary objective.

Its first licensee is Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) a wholly Abu Dhabi-owned corporate entity charged with developing nuclear power plants within the UAE.

At the federal government level the International Advisory Board (IAB) includes former heads of national regulatory bodies, nuclear industry leaders, and recognized academic authorities, who will report directly to the Ministry of Presidential Affairs and provide independent assessments of the status and performance of the various entities associated with the UAE's civil nuclear program.

In December 2009 the tender to design, build, operate and maintain support services for the UAE Civil Nuclear Power Program has been awarded to Korea Electric Power Company (Kepco) who will be providing the "full scope of works and services” that is to say engineering, procurement, construction, nuclear fuel and operations and maintenance support. KEPCO is the prime contractor responsible for the project. It is not a consortium but Kepco has nominated subcontractors in its bid such as Samsung C&T Corp, Hyundai Engineering and ConstructionHyundai Engineering and Constructionand Doosan Heavy Industries.  

While around 70 % of the various supports needed for the project are already secured by Kepco and its subcontractors the rest will be allocated among foreign and local companies. However, there is no doubt that support and outsourced services will have to be offered to ENEC and the federal authorities.


Many foreign companies have looked at this opportunity and wonder whether they could benefit from the article Article 27.2 of the law of 2009 which exempts them from taking a sponsor: “Foreign companies may set up branches in the State to conduct or assist in the conduct of a Regulated Activity after obtaining the prior approval of the Authority, without the need to appoint a local service agent”.


Under the law of 2009 the Regulated Activities are limited to: “selection of a site for the Construction of a Nuclear Facility; preparation of a site for the Construction of a Nuclear Facility; Construction of a Nuclear Facility; Commissioning of a Nuclear Facility; Operation of a Nuclear Facility; closure or a change in the Closure date of any Nuclear Facility; Decommissioning of a Nuclear Facility; modifications having significance on Safety to the Management System and organizational arrangements of the structures, systems and equipment of or contained in any Nuclear Facility. The Authority shall determine the nature of the modifications that require its approval; possession, use, manufacture or handling of any Regulated Material or part of any Regulated Material in the State; import or export of any Regulated Material into or from the State, subject to any consents required pursuant to the provisions of Law No 13 of 2007, transportation of any Regulated Material within the State; introduction or removal of any Regulated Material to or from any Nuclear Facility; Storage of any Regulated Material within the State; Disposal of any Regulated Material within the State; and any other activity designated as such from time to time by the implementing and the applicable regulations to this Law by Decree to provide for the effective control of Safety, Nuclear Safety, Nuclear Security, Radiation Protection or any part or stage of any activities referred to above or previously designated as a Regulated Activity by the implementing and the applicable regulations”.


All details of application of the article 27.2 with regard to obtaining a license are not known yet. For sure it applies only to branches. It may however concern only the license to operate one of the above activities at the exclusion of any other activities in the UAE.


For those who wish to support Kepco and its subcontractors, before choosing a way to set up in Abu Dhabi they will have to go through qualification processes. Being accepted on the Qualified Supplier List of Kepco or its subcontractors is not an automatic process and it is recommended to start the process early. ENEC will also probably implement a commercial directory of qualified suppliers.


In any case, potential suppliers shall make a plan very soon since Kepco and its subcontractors have started to implement their contract. The first excavation work will start on 1.4.2012, the first unit set reactor is on 1.7.2014 and the first unit will be delivered on 1.5.2017.


Copyright Jean-Michel Moriniere 1997-2015