February 6, 2018 / 11:46 AM / 10 months ago

Two Turkish firms out of Russian nuclear plant consortium, other in talks: sources

ANKARA (Reuters) - Two of three Turkish firms lined up to buy into the Russia-led construction of Turkey’s first nuclear power plant have backed away from the deal, two energy sources told Reuters on Tuesday, in a possible further setback for the project.

Russia’s Rosatom, which is leading the project, said in June that it would sell 49 percent of Akkuyu Nukleer AS, which will construct and operate the plant, to a consortium made up of three companies: Kolin Insaat, Kalyon Insaat and Cengiz Holding.

However, the final agreement was never signed.

The two sources told Reuters that the Akkuyu project in southern Turkey would have at least one Turkish partner. They said Russia is currently in talks with Turkish energy companies and state electricity producer EUAS to join the consortium.

The three Turkish companies declined to comment on the issue when contacted by Reuters and Rosatom did not respond to a request for comment.

Russia had halted the project after Turkey downed a Russian warplane over Syria in late 2015, bringing relations between the two countries to their worst since the Cold War. The project resumed in June 2016, after relations were normalized.

During a news conference with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in November, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the countries planned to launch the first reactor at Akkuyu in 2023 and that construction would begin in the near future.

Hurriyet newspaper reported on Tuesday that a board member from Kolin Insaat said it was unlikely that the plant would become operational by 2023.

The nuclear power plant is slated to have a production capacity of 4,800 megawatts and will cost $20 billion to construct.

Reporting by Orhan Coskun; Writing by Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Daren Butler and Catherine Evans

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