By Abd Elkader Ramadan
CAIRO, Dec. 28 (Aswat Masriya) - Egypt and Russia are going to sign a final contract on the Dabaa nuclear plant next month, after Russia made the best of three offers, Egypt's electricity minister told reporters Monday.
Minister Mohamed Shaker said in a press conference that Egypt considered offers from Russia, China and South Korea but he refused to disclose how much the deal is worth "so that the negotiations are not affected."
He did, however, say that on the financial side, the agreement was "enormous". President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said in November that Egypt will pay for the power plant with proceeds from "the actual production of electricity" from this plant, with electricity generation set to start in 2024.
The Egyptian president previously said the Russian offer was the "fastest" and "best" on the table, stressing that the plant will only be used for peaceful power generation purposes.
Shaker said Russia has built more nuclear reactors than any other country and has advanced technology in this field, adding that Russia has built 96 reactors in 14 countries.
The electricity minister recently visited Russia to look at models for nuclear reactors of the same kind that will be built in Egypt. "It will offer the highest levels of safety available globally," he said.
Egypt and Russia announced that Russia will build a nuclear facility in Egypt in February, during Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Egypt, which came amid increasignly cosy ties between the two countries.
A day after the announcement, a U.S. State Department spokesperson said "we support peaceful nuclear power programmes as long as obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to which Egypt is a signatory and obligations to the International Atomic Energy Agency are fully met and the highest international standards regulating security, nonproliferation, export controls, and physical security are strictly followed."
The U.S. also noted that its government "provides a great deal of security assistance" to Egypt.
On Nov. 19, Egypt signed a cooperation agreement with Russia's state-owned nuclear firm Rosatom.
The agreement, which had been under negotiation for months, was signed days after Russia vowed to avenge the downing of a Russian airliner killing all 224 passengers and crew on board, the majority of whom were Russian holidaymakers visiting the resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh and heading to St. Petersburg.
The nuclear plant will be equipped with four NPP units at a capacity of 1200 MW each, according to a previous statement by Rosatom.
Egypt has been facing an energy crisis for years, with power outages surging in the increasingly hot summers. Egyptian authorities have often attributed the power cuts to a larger fuel crisis and have been taking measures in recent months to diversify sources of energy.