The state-owned Korean company aiming to build West Cumbria’s Moorside nuclear power plant hopes to seal a deal for NuGen by September, a senior energy official has revealed.

According to the Yonhap News Agency, an anonymous official in the Korean government’s energy ministry – wary of revealing their identity due to the ongoing negotiations – set out the date for Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) to acquire a 100 per cent share in the consortium.

Kepco was granted preferred bidder status to acquire full control of NuGen – the consortium set up to deliver the £15 billion Moorside development – in December, following months of talks with sole shareholder Toshiba.

At the time Kepco said it was hoping to complete the deal in the first half of 2018.

Detailed negotiations are currently taking place between the two companies, along with the UK government and the Korean government, which holds more than 51 per cent of shares in Kepco.

In the interview with Korea’s Yonhap News Agency, the energy official said: "If a preliminary analysis concludes the project serves the national interests, (Kepco) will complete the stake acquisition by the third quarter of this year."

The Korean government’s negotiations are focusing on the project’s profitability and potential risks, while Kepco and Toshiba are thrashing out detailed terms, the official added.

Moorside, which will be built on land adjacent to the Sellafield site, has the potential to generate around seven per cent of the UK’s energy needs. Kepco plans to build its APR1400 reactors at Moorside, although they need to go through the Office for Nuclear Regulation’s Generic Design Assessment process.

Last month its new chief executive Dr Jong Kap Kim unveiled plans to target overseas markets in a bid to increase the company’s profitability.

If Kepco secures the deal for NuGen it would be the utility’s second overseas project. The construction of four reactors in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, are nearing completion after Kepco secured a $20bn deal to deliver the project back in 2009.

It is also understood to be targeting further projects in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East.

Toshiba has been exploring investment options for NuGen since its subsidiary Westinghouse Electric – due to supply three AP1000 reactors to Moorside – filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the US having overpaid by several billion dollars for another nuclear construction and services business.

Toshiba has since sold Westinghouse to Brookfield Asset Management in a deal worth $4.6bn.