South Korea consortium Kepco has shortened the construction schedule for the Abu Dhabi nuclear plant by four months, resetting the projected completion date to July 2017. The first concrete is now expected to be poured this July. 

The change reflects the company's efforts to bring equipment and people in ahead of time to Baraka - the preferred reactor site - according to Jun-Yeon Byun, chief nuclear officer of Kepco.

"After we were awarded the UAE project, the presence of Korea as a nuclear powerhouse and Kepco's reputation and brand has gone up significantly," he said at Kepco's headquarters in Seoul.

Last month, the company announced it aimed to sell two reactors this year in an attempt to expand its foreign business "aggressively". Currently, it is in talks with Malaysia, India, Vietnam and South Africa for nuclear plant contracts. In addition, company subsidiary Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power has been invited to Finland to bid on the country's next reactor.

The UAE contract, awarded to Kepco in December of 2009, is worth $20.4 billion and plans to build the first four reactors in the Arab world. The schedule change still depends on approval from the UAE regulator. 

Kepco operates more than 20 reactors and has an additional seven under construction.