Factbox: Nuclear power plans in the Gulf and beyond

(BestGrowthStock) – Many countries in the Middle East and North Africa have said they want to develop civilian nuclear programmes to meet rising power demand.

The Gulf Cooperation Council — a loose economic and political alliance of six Arab states, including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and the UAE — said in 2007 it was studying a joint nuclear energy programme.

Across the world, nuclear is seen by many as a long-term solution to high fuel costs and an effective way to cut carbon emissions from the electricity generation sector.

Below are the nuclear aspirations of OPEC members, who are seeking to burn less oil in power generation and to maximize its availability for export, as well as the energy aspirations of other Middle Eastern countries.

UAE

The United Arab Emirates in December awarded a South Korean consortium the contract to build four nuclear power plants with total capacity of 5,600 megawatts.

The contract calls for the first plant to come online in 2017 and for all four reactors to be completed by 2020. The plants will be the first nuclear generation plants in the Gulf Arab region.

The UAE said it expected to order more nuclear power plants in the future.

SAUDI ARABIA

This year, Saudi Arabia commissioned Finnish management consultancy Poyry to explore the possibility of getting involved in as many stages of the nuclear energy cycle, including the enrichment process, as possible.

U.S. Shaw Group and Japan’s Toshiba Corp said this month they had formed a partnership to chase potential nuclear power projects in Saudi Arabia.

The firms said they would team with Exelon Nuclear Partners “to pursue opportunities to provide a full complement of services to design, engineer, construct and operate new nuclear electric generating plants in Saudi Arabia.”

France and Saudi Arabia said last year they were close to finalizing a civilian nuclear energy cooperation agreement, while the United States and Russia are also interested in helping the world’s top oil exporter to develop nuclear energy.

IRAN

Russia has been Tehran’s main nuclear partner, building Iran’s first nuclear power plant near the city of Bushehr, which is set to begin operations later this year.

Tehran says the 915-megawatt plant would only be used for generating electricity.

But the West accuses Iran of covertly seeking to make nuclear weapons. Iran has announced dates for starting the power plant in the past that have been missed. (For a FACTBOX-Iran’s Bushehr nuclear plant click here)

KUWAIT

Kuwait is considering developing nuclear power to meet demand for electricity and water desalination. It has held talks with France’s Areva SA.

ALGERIA

Algeria aims to build its first commercial nuclear power station by around 2020 and to build another every five years after that, energy minister Chakib Khelil said last year.

He said Algeria had atomic energy agreements with Argentina, China, France and the United States and was also in talks with Russia and South Africa.

“Toward 2020 we will probably have our first reactor and we’ll probably have a reactor every five years after that,” he said.

The country has big uranium deposits and two nuclear research reactors but no uranium enrichment capacity.

Algeria and China agreed in 2008 to cooperate on developing civilian nuclear power.

Algeria also has atomic energy agreements with several other countries.

LIBYA

Moscow and Libya said in November 2008 they were negotiating a deal for Russia to build nuclear research reactors for the North African state and supply fuel.

Officials said a document on civilian nuclear cooperation was under discussion at talks between Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Under the deal, Russia would help Libya design, develop and operate civilian nuclear research reactors and provide fuel for them.

QATAR

Initial Qatari interest in nuclear power plants has waned with the fall in international oil and gas prices, a Qatari official said in November 2008.

“It is less economically viable now, and less attractive. The potential costs are changing with the turmoil in financial markets, the economic slowdown and development of alternative fuels,” Yousuf Janahi, manager of business development at Qatar’s state-owned power company Kahramaa, said.

If Qatar decided to go ahead with building a nuclear plant, feasibility studies showed it would be unlikely to bring a reactor into operation before 2018.

French power giant EDF signed a memorandum with Qatar in early 2008 for cooperation on development of a peaceful civilian nuclear power programme.

EGYPT

Egypt announced plans to build several nuclear reactors to meet rising power demand in 2007. China, Russia, France and Kazakhstan have all offered to cooperate in building them.

Egypt signed a deal in June 2009 with Australia’s WorleyParsons for nuclear power consultancy.

Industry observers have suggested the United States could be willing to help Egypt develop its nuclear programme if Egypt gave up the right to enrich uranium and reprocess spent nuclear fuel, processes that can be used to make weapons-grade nuclear materials.

JORDAN

Amman plans to build a nuclear power plant by 2017.

Jordan has signed cooperation agreements with France, China and Canada to co-operate on the development of civilian nuclear power and the transfer of technology.

Jordan had talks with French nuclear energy producer Areva

in 2008 on building a nuclear power reactor.

Stock Market Today

(Compiled by Daniel Fineren, Simon Webb and Amena Bakr; Editing by Barbara Lewis and William Hardy)

Factbox: Nuclear power plans in the Gulf and beyond