South Africa in talks to renew Koeberg nuclear fuel deal
South Africa is in talks with the US about renewing a nuclear-cooperation agreement that lapsed in December and resulted in the suspension of a license for supplies of the fuel to a key power plant.
Talks about a new pact are “ongoing, and the parties have resolved to expedite the process,” the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy said in a statement on Friday.
While the fuel for the Koeberg nuclear facility isn’t planned for delivery until early 2024, “urgent resolution is needed to allow Westinghouse Electric Co.” to resume supply, the department said.
Westinghouse lost its license from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission after the agreement for cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy between Washington and South Africa ended on Dec. 4.
US President Joe Biden was poised in August to extend the existing agreement, before it was allowed to expire.
The talks on renewing the accord come at a time when South Africa’s Eskom, which owns and operates the Koeberg facility, is struggling to meet demand, mainly because of unreliable coal-fired plants, resulting in nationwide electricity outages.
The energy department said it’s working with government counterparts “to expedite the negotiations” to re-establish the agreement.