France's EDF plans to bid in Saudi Arabia nuclear tender-sources

RIYADH/PARIS, Nov 29 (Reuters) - French state-controlled utility EDF intends to take part in a tender to build two nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia, two sources familiar with the situation told Reuters.

Saudi Arabia, which wants to reduce domestic oil consumption, is considering building 17.6 gigawatts (GW) of nuclear-fuelled power generation capacity by 2032 and has sent a request for information to international suppliers to build two reactors, a first step towards a formal tendering competition.

With answers to the request due by the end 2017 or early 2018, a tender could be launched at the earliest by mid-2018, but more likely the end of 2018 or early 2019, industry specialists say.

Russian and South Korean companies have said they plan to bid and sources have told Reuters that Toshiba-owned U.S. firm Westinghouse is in talks with U.S. peers to form a bidding consortium.

EDF has said it has held talks with Saudi Arabia about selling Areva-designed European Pressurized Reactors (EPR) but has not publicly confirmed it will bid.

Both EDF and Areva - whose reactor unit EDF will buy in a government-led rescue - have received capital injections from the French state this year to shore up their balance sheets.

“EDF wants to participate in the process launched for Saudi Arabia,” a source familiar with the situation said.

The source added that EDF wants to assist the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE), the Saudi government agency tasked with the nuclear programme, in drafting its nuclear newbuild programme.

EDF declined to comment. KACARE could not immediately be reached for comment. (Writing by Geert De Clercq; editing by Luke Baker and Louise Heavens)