Russian electricity giant TEK Monsenergo will carry out a feasibility study on supplying North Korea’s Rason region with power, according to a press release from RAO Energy Systems of East, the company spearheading the project.
Mosenergo is a subsidiary of Russia’s state-owned Gazprom, the world’s largest extractor of natural gas.
The Russian company plans to complete the feasibility study by June.
“We have concluded tendering procedures and selected a company which will conduct the feasibility study of prospected energy export to North Korea. It is OJSC TEK Mosenergo,” Alexey Popov, RAO’s press officer told NK News.
RAO Energy System of East is a subsidiary of another state-owned Russian power company, RusHydro, whose name has been linked to North Korean projects since October.
“A preliminary analysis of the existing balance of power and electricity in (Russia’s Far Eastern) Primorsky region gives us reason to talk about the prospects of electricity export to North Korea – said Alex Kaplun, Deputy Director General of RAO ES of the East Strategy and Investment in the press release.
According to RAO, the study will assess the necessary construction and infrastructure requirements needed to bring North Korea’s grid up to specifications.
“It will determine the economical perspectives of this project and the amount of construction and renovations necessary for export to be physically possible,” Popov added.
RAO announced in January that it wanted to export 200 megawatts (MW) of power to the North Korea’s Rason district by 2016, with 600 MW tentatively scheduled for 2025. The Russian company opened a tendering process for companies to carry out a feasibility study for the project in January.
North Korea has long struggled with generating enough electricity. Despite numerous projects underway to increase domestic capacity, the DPRK still suffers from widespread blackouts and few areas have round the clock power.
Should RAO’s project go ahead, the amount of electricity exported to North Korea could be substantial.
“It would (be a significant export). Especially given that by our estimate, the whole country uses something like 2000-3000 MW on average,” David Von Hippel, a senior associate at the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability told NK News in January.
The recently established Russia-North Korea business council is also looking to engage South Korean companies in trilateral energy projects. Russia is one of the world’s largest exporters of electricity and natural gas, but is cut off from the energy hungry South Korean market.
South Korea’s K-Water and KEPCO are reportedly in discussions with RusHydro on a number of topics, though are downplaying the possibility of cooperation with the DPRK.
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Featured Image: Electricity Pylons by The Nick Page on 2013-10-18 17:06:42