* U.S., France, China, Russia also tender shortlist
* Winner likely to be selected in 2019 (Adds background)
SEOUL, July 1 (Reuters) - State-run utility Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO) had been shortlisted to bid for a nuclear project in Saudi Arabia along with the United States, France, China and Russia, South Korea’s energy ministry said on Sunday.
“We were informed by our Saudi counterpart, King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy, that KEPCO was shortlisted for a nuclear project in Saudi Arabia,” the ministry said in a statement.
The statement said the winner of the tender was expected to be chosen in 2019.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil producer, plans to build two nuclear plants to diversify its energy supply and has been in talks with companies from South Korea, the United States, Russia and China for the tender.
In May, Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih met South Korean Energy Minister Paik Un-gyu in Seoul. Falih told reporters on the sidelines of an industry event that he was “optimistic” about South Korea being on the tender shortlist.
South Korea, the world’s fifth-biggest nuclear power user, is seeking to export its nuclear reactors abroad.
In 2009, a South Korean consortium led by KEPCO won an $18.6 billion deal to construct four nuclear plants in the United Arab Emirates, the country’s ever nuclear export success.
KEPCO was also selected as a preferred bidder in December last year for Toshiba’s NuGen nuclear project in Britain and the Korean company planned to talk with Toshiba to buy a stake in the project. (Reporting By Jane Chung and Cynthia Kim. Editing by Jane Merriman)