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MOSCOW, March 21 (Reuters) - Turkey's first nuclear plant will open in 2023, its builder Rosatom told Reuters on Wednesday, adding talks with potential investors were not expected to affect the construction timetable.
Earlier this month, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters the Akkuyu nuclear plant in southern Turkey was likely to miss its 2023 target start-up date as its state-owned Russian builder Rosatom struggles to find local partners.
The 4,800 megawatt plant is intended to reduce Turkey's dependence on energy imports, but has been beset by delays since Russia was awarded the contract in 2010.
Rosatom said last month it was in talks with Turkish state-owned power producer EUAS after a deal with a consortium of three firms collapsed.
"Rosatom categorically rejects speculation that any changes to the composition of the local ownership structure in the Akkuyu project have any bearing on the timetable of its implementation," Rosatom said in a statement.
Rosatom has been looking at four Turkish companies as possible partners, but little progress has been made so far, said one of the sources, both of whom declined to be identified because the information is not yet public.
Turkish companies have been put off by the size of the financing required as well as by concerns they will not receive a sufficient share of the lucrative construction side of the deal, two industry sources have said.
"We are doing our utmost to speed up the first unit's construction based on following the strictest safety regulations and the request of the Turkish party to achieve physical start-up of the first unit of the NPP (nuclear plant) in 2023," Rosatom said in emailed comments to Reuters on Wednesday.
Rosatom is a global leader in the nuclear power market, accounting for 17 percent of it. It has 33 power blocks in 12 countries in its asset portfolio. (Reporting by Katya Golubkova; Editing by Louise Heavens and Mark Potter)