ANKARA, April 29 (Reuters) - Turkey's energy minister said Ankara will announce by the weekend which country will construct its second nuclear power station, a project expected to cost around $22 billion.
Turkey, likely to overtake Britain as Europe's third-biggest electricity consumer within ten years, plans to build several nuclear plants over the next decade to reduce its dependence on imported oil and gas.
'We are about to finalise the agreement for construction of the second power plant. China and Japan are the front runners,' Taner Yildiz told reporters on Monday.
Turkey is expected to choose a Japanese consortium of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd and Itochu Corp , with France's GDF Suez, to build the plant which is seen having a capacity of around 4,500-5,000 megawatts (MW), according to Turkish government sources.
Turkish media reported in March that the deal will be signed by Turkish and Japanese officials in early May to construct four pressurized water nuclear reactors with a combined capacity of about 4.5 gigawatts at Sinop on the Black Sea. Construction is to start in 2017.
Turkey signed a deal with Russia's Rosatom in 2010 to build its first nuclear power station. Rosatom will start construction in mid-2015 and it expects electricity production to start in 2019, its deputy general manager said in February.
Yildiz said the announcement on who will be chosen is due this weekend while a source close to the matter said the agreement will be signed during Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to Turkey over the weekend to meet his counterpart Tayyip Erdogan.
Turkish energy sources said the consortium had proposed installing Areva's Atmea reactors. These are 1,100 megawatt pressurized water reactors developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Areva in their Atmea joint venture.
To date, this reactor has not been sold or built anywhere, but Areva hopes to sell it in Turkey, Jordan, Vietnam and Argentina.
Apart from China and Japan, Turkey had also been in talks with companies from Canada and South Korea on the planned Sinop plant.
(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Anthony Barker) Keywords: ENERGY NUCLEAR/ TURKEY
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