Oil report

S.Africa energy regulator puts nuclear procurement on meeting agenda

JOHANNESBURG, Nov 9 (Reuters) - South Africa’s energy regulator has put “the procurement of 2,500 MW (megawatts) of nuclear capacity” as a discussion item on the agenda of a meeting of its electricity sub-committee on Wednesday, a copy of the agenda showed.

Regulator Nersa, which posted the agenda on its Twitter account, said the electricity sub-committee would consult on whether to concur with a “section 34 determination” to procure the additional nuclear power capacity.

The minister of mineral resources and energy typically issues a section 34 determination when the government wants to procure more generation capacity.

A spokesman for the mineral resources and energy ministry referred all questions to Nersa. A Nersa spokeswoman acknowledged receipt of questions but did not respond in time for publication.

Africa’s most industrialised economy regularly experiences electricity outages because of faults at state utility Eskom’s creaking coal-fired power station fleet.

But civil society groups and economists are opposed to the government procuring more nuclear capacity, seeing it as a costly option at a time that the economy is weak.

Three years ago, activists blocked a massive 9,600 MW nuclear expansion project under former President Jacob Zuma that some believed was a conduit for corruption.

But this year, the mineral resources and energy ministry said it wanted to develop a plan for a smaller-scale procurement of 2,500 MW. It then solicited information from nuclear vendors including how much such a procurement could cost. (Reporting by Alexander Winning Editing by Marguerita Choy)