[TOKYO] The operator of the tsunami-crippled Fukushima nuclear plant has jointly won a large power and water infrastructure contract in the desert state of Qatar, it said Monday.
Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) and Japanese trading house Mitsubishi Corp have been selected by a company backed by the Qatari government to build and operate power and water plants for 25 years, in a project worth some US$2.5 billion.
The announcement will be welcome news for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has led the drive for Japanese companies to sell their technology abroad and represents Tepco's biggest foreign commercial success since the triple meltdowns at Fukushima in 2011.
However, the new agreement does not include nuclear technology.
The deal, sealed between K1 Energy, a joint venture established by Mitsubishi and Tepco, and Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation (KAHRAMAA), "is the result of an international tender issued by the KAHRAMAA in May 2014", the Japanese companies said in a statement.
The final purchase agreement will be concluded between KAHRAMAA and a special purpose company established through a partnership among K1 Energy and three other Qatar companies, it said.
"The special purpose company will construct, own and operate a gas-fired power generation plant with the capacity of 2.4 gigawatts and a water desalination plant with the capacity of 590,000 cubic metres per day in Qatar over 25 years," it said.
Operations at the site, located 20 kilometres (12 miles) south of the capital Doha, "are scheduled to commence in 2017", it said.
K1 Energy will hold 30 per cent of the special purpose company, while Qatar Electricity and Water Company will hold 60 per cent, with Qatar Petroleum and Qatar Foundation each holding 5 per cent.
Mitsubishi and Tepco hold an equity share of 98.5 per cent and 1.5 per cent of K1 Energy respectively, but the companies are discussing "raising Tepco's ratio of share holding to a maximum of 33.3 per cent" by the end of September, the companies said.
The project, which a Tepco spokesman said will cost a total of 300 billion yen (US$3.36 billion) "will also enhance Tepco's business base as it seeks to increase operating revenue towards revitalisation in Fukushima", the statement said.
Tepco is battling with the spiralling costs of a technically complicated clean-up at Fukushima, where three reactors went into meltdown after their cooling systems were swamped in the March 2011 tsunami.
The world's worst nuclear disaster in a generation forced tens of thousands of people from their homes, many of whom remain displaced amid warnings that some areas may have to be abandoned.