Cape Town 101110. Koeberg Power Station near Melkbos as seen from the air. PHOTO SAM CLARK

Melanie Gosling

Environment Writer

ESKOM has postponed the selection of a winning bid to replace six steam generators at Koeberg, a project that is likely to cost around $350 million.

In October the utility said it expected to announce the selected bidder early this year.

However, Tony Stott, the utility’s spokesman on nuclear matters, said yesterday the project was “still in the procurement phase”.

“No decision has yet been taken on timing and vendors.”

A decision would probably be made towards the end of next month, he said.

When Eskom announced its intention in 2012 to embark on the multibillion-rand replacement project, it said it hoped to award the contract early last year. This was moved to early this year and now it has been moved to June.

The Koeberg refit forms part of the government’s broader nuclear programme to build 9 600 megawatts of new nuclear power by 2030.

It has been reported that both the French multinational Areva and the US-based Westinghouse, controlled by the Toshiba Group, have submitted bids. The steam generators in unit 1 have been in operation since 1984 and in unit 2 since 1985. Eskom believes replacing the generators will extend the life of Koeberg by at least another 10 years.

The generators will have modern designs to make maintenance and inspections easier. They will also increase the efficiency of Koeberg. They would be assembled overseas and shipped to Saldanha.

In March Nuclear Intelligence Weekly wrote about the drawn-out procurement process, saying it was not clear why the process remained stuck, adding that it did not bode well for South Africa’s larger nuclear programme.

“The apparent stalemate doesn’t bode well for those eager for a South African newbuild to progress. To be fair, Eskom now appears far from the driver’s seat in any such newbuild. But the fact that the government is not able to sign off on a $350m contract to replace six steam generators may explain why global reactor vendors are so lukewarm in their enthusiasm for a South African newbuild.”