The tender for Turkey’s first nuclear power station will not be awarded until after elections scheduled for this month (April), according to the country’s energy minister, to allow the incoming government to take the necessary decisions about the project.

There has been speculation that the project could be abandoned, but the government said this was unlikely. Turkey’s state power company TEAS completed the technical evaluation of bids from three consortia wishing to build the plant, bids delivered in 1997. However the energy minister said the economic evaluation was not finished.

The original timetable for the nuclear project was for construction to begin in July of this year at the site near Akkuyu village on the eastern Mediterranean coast of Turkey. Completion was expected by 2006.

Turkey has sought bids for a nuclear project twice before. Officials believe a third failure will harm the country’s international credibility.

The three consortia bidding for the project were led by Westinghouse, Atomic Energy of Canada, and the French-German concern, Nuclear Power International. The latter is believed to have made the best offer, with a first option of constructing a 1482 MWe plant for $2.39 billion and with a unit power cost of $0.0256/kWh. A second option involves a 2964 MWe plant at a cost of $4.48 billion and with a unit power cost of 0.0228/kWh.