In my last blog post, I drew attention to the Middle East’s plans for nuclear energy. For example, the UAE (United Arab Emirates) has its first reactor coming online next year , Jordan has two reactors on order and Oman is investing $120M in Berkeley Energy’s Salamanca uranium project. However, the home of Big Oil has one country whose nuclear ambitions outshine all of its neighbours: Saudi Arabia.
The Saudis currently have sixteen reactors in the proposal stage and, earlier this month, Utilities Middle East Magazine reported that the country is currently seeking international partners to push its nuclear development plans forward.
According to the article, the president of King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE) has held "high-level meetings with representatives of Russian, US, Japanese, and South Korean delegations" to review how they may support the kingdom's plans to implement the National Atomic Energy Project. The officials are said to have discussed feasibility studies, as well as front end engineering designs (FEED) for the construction of the country’s first two reactors.
Shortly afterwards, Rosatom announced that KACARE had signed a “Programme for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy” with Russia. According to a news release issued by Rosatom, the programme “provides for cooperation between Russia and Saudi Arabia in several key areas such as small and medium reactors that could be used for both power generation and water desalination, in the area of human resources and nuclear infrastructure development for the Saudi national nuclear programme.”
For me, Big Oil turning to nuclear is one of the most under-reported energy trends out there. You have these countries with huge energy reserves and low energy costs that are stepping forward to embrace nuclear power generation. Yes, they also have ambitious solar energy plans – unsurprisingly for countries that see so much sun. However, they understand that a large percentage of their energy mix has to deliver baseload power and to do that – assuming you want the baseload power to be clean – you have to include nuclear energy.
Dev Randhawa, CEO and Chairman, of Fission Uranium