Nuclear Power in the Gulf

In December 2006 the six member States of the Gulf Cooperation Council (Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, Qatar and Oman) commissioned a study on the peaceful use of nuclear energy and in February 2007 agreed to cooperate with the IAEA. There is high interest in the possibilities of nuclear power in tandem with desalination.

The Kuwaiti government is planning to build four new 1,000 MW nuclear power plants by 2022. In 2010 the country signed a nuclear co-operation agreement with France and Japan in addition to its earlier agreement with Russia. However, the Kuwait Investment Authority acquired a 4.8% stake in Areva for EUR 600 million and French involvement in the sector seems likely.

Three companies, the Shaw Group, Toshiba and Exelon, have announced that they are collaborating to pursue nuclear power projects in Saudi Arabia. In April 2010 the Saudi government set up a high-level organisation to oversee its nuclear projects.

Another country in the region, the UAE, is also making some steps towards the development of nuclear power. In 2009 the country introduced law for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy including ‘the development of a robust system for the licensing and control of nuclear materials’ and penalties for misuse and domestic uranium enrichment. Overseeing the development of the nuclear sector will be the Federal Authority of Nuclear Regulation with the first plant scheduled to begin operations in 2017. Two nuclear plants are planned within the country.

In January 2010 a Korean consortium led by KEPCO won a USD 20 million tender to build four APR1400 reactors in the UAE. Commissioning of the first 1,400MW unit in Braka is expected in 2017 with the remaining three between 2017 and 2020. Construction licences for the projects were submitted in early 2011.

Dubai is also considering using nuclear power to produce electricity and desalinated water.

The UAE has signed nuclear agreements with the USA, Korea and France.

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