AMMAN, Nov. 15, 2009 (Xinhua News Agency) -- Energy-poor Jordan on Sunday signed an 11.3 million U.S. dollar contract with an Australian company to conduct the pre-construction consultancy services contract for the kingdom's first nuclear power plant.
"The pre-construction agreement will pave the way for the choice of the best reactor technology to be used by the plant and for the development of the plant's infrastructure," Head of Jordan 's Atomic Energy Commission Khalid Touqan said at the signing ceremony Sunday.
In October, the Arab kingdom announced the launch of the site feasibility study for the country's first nuclear power plant, located about 12 km to the east of the Aqaba coastline. The plant, expected to initially generate 750 to 1,100 megawatts of electricity, is scheduled to be operational by 2020.
At Sunday's signing ceremony, Touqan said the two-year pre- construction consultancy services contract, which will be conducted by the Australia-based WorleyParsons, is scheduled to kick off in January next year.
Under the agreement, the Australian firm will narrow down a short-list of companies to the final bidder, in order to sign an agreement for the reactor's construction by late 2012, Touqan added. "This contract is not just a document, but a historical milestone of importance to Jordan," WorleyParsons Senior Vice President Djurica Tankosich said during the signing ceremony.
Tankosich noted that the firm will help the Kingdom make a fare assessment of technology options, free of "commercial and political" pressures.
Under the study, the Australian company will undertake a spectrum of technical and other consultancies and services to evaluate the nuclear power plant technology that would be most suitable for Jordan, according to the commission.
The consultancy services will also include feasibility and financial assessment, selection of plant operator, development of utility structure, capacity building and regulatory support for the commission on safety and regulatory issues related to the power plant sites.
Touqan added that WorleyParsons would undertake various tasks related to the long-term nuclear fuel strategy, spent fuel and radioactive waste management (NYSE:WM) strategy, environmental protection issues, localization of power plant technology and services and the structure of the electric nuclear utility.
The company will also evaluate the comprehensive financing plan, the risk management plan, the physical protection and nuclear security plan, according to the commission.
Jordan, which is planning to build three to four nuclear reactors for the generation of power potentially by the year 2035, has inked nuclear cooperation agreements with several countries such as France, Russia, China, Argentina and Britain.