Kuwait plans to build four nuclear reactors
Roadmap to commissioning in 2022 to be released in January.
Kuwait has revealed its ambition to build four nuclear reactors by 2022, in a bid to diversify its sources of electricity to feed a growing demand for energy and combat power outages that are plaguing the country.
Kuwait’s National Nuclear Energy Committee is considering options and will release a so-called roadmap for developing atomic power as early as January, Ahmad Bishara, secretary general of the body, said in an interview with Bloomberg.
The country may build four 1,000 megawatt reactors, he said.
Kuwait is in discussions with international bodies on “how nuclear energy fits in the energy mix of Kuwait for the next 20 years,” Bishara said in Tokyo yesterday. “Our initial analysis indicates that nuclear is viable as long as oil is above $45 to $50 a barrel.”
Arab countries including Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, and the United Arab Emirates are turning to atomic energy to save oil reserves for overseas sales. They need to allay U.S. concerns the technology may get diverted to weapons programs in a region that has experienced three major wars since the 1980s.
Kuwait ratified a protocol giving International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors access to future nuclear facilities to ease American concerns, Tomoko Murakami, a nuclear analyst at the Institute of Energy Economics in Tokyo, told Bloomberg.
“Kuwait’s need to develop its power infrastructure is greater than other Arab countries because summer power shortages are severe,” Murakami said.
Bishara was in Tokyo this week to sign a memorandum of cooperation on atomic power development with Japan, which is promoting exports of nuclear technology as part of the government’s strategy for economic growth.
The agreement includes cooperation on planning and developing nuclear power and training technical experts. Kuwait has similar agreements with Russia and the U.S., Bishara said.
In April, Kuwait and France signed a nuclear cooperation treaty, which may allow Areva SA, the world’s biggest maker of nuclear reactors, to export nuclear technology to the country.
By January, the committee will issue a plan for nuclear development that will include a timetable for bidding for contracts and potential locations of nuclear plants, Bishara said.
“Kuwait has enough sovereign funds to take up the expenses,” Bishara said. “That means foreign suppliers and investors are just to be partners for technologies.”
He didn’t specify how much Kuwait will spend on the nuclear projects because plans aren’t complete.
Kuwait is not the only country pursuing a nuclear agenda in their power generation plans. The UAE is spending $20 billion on four nuclear reactors, coming online between 2017 and 2020.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil supplier, said in April it will start a civilian nuclear and renewable energy center to help meet increasing demand for power.
Electricity in demand
Demand for electricity in Kuwait is expected to grow as much as 7 percent annually to 25,000 megawatts by 2030, from 11,000 megawatts this year, Bishara said.
Kuwait burns 300,000 barrels a day of oil products, or 12 percent of its daily oil production, in thermal power plants to meet demand, Bishara said. The ratio is projected to increase to as much as 20 percent by 2025, he said.
Kuwait’s crude oil output was estimated at 2.3 million barrels a day in August, less than Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and the U.A.E. among Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The country, located between Iraq and Saudi Arabia at the northern end of the Gulf, has a population of 3.3 million people, according to government figures for 2008. It had proven oil reserves of 101.5 billion barrels in December 2009 or 7.6 percent of the global total, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.