Saudi Arabia could soon have the first nuclear power plant in the Gulf states if U.S. backing for the plan moves forward.
A new part of Riyadh will be completely powered by nuclear energy.
One reason that oil consuming nations might be interested in pushing this forward is that nuclear power in oil-producing nations might increase the amount of oil available for export:
The government of Saudi Arabia has announced a new section of its capital Riyadh is set to be powered solely by nuclear energy. This will be the first nuclear power plant in the Gulf states, and the first in the broader Middle East.
If the U.S. government backs Saudi Arabia’s bid to build a reactor, they’ll be creating the potential for nuclear growth within the GCC, or Gulf Cooperation Council, whose members include Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, the UAE, and Oman.
All of those states are also reviewing the possibility of producing nuclear fuel, so they can export more oil and gas to foreign markets.
According to the EIA, Saudi Arabia is the largest oil-consumer in the Middle East and one of the largest sources of oil consumption growth is electricity production since the nation must burn oil during the summer to generate electricity. Thus any power generated by a nuclear reactor frees up oil for export. This means more oil to sell for Saudi Arabia and more oil supply available for the global market.
It sounds like a win-win, as long as the technology is used peacefully of course.
As we understand it though, purely civilian reactors can be designed so that their fuel can’t be weaponised. Even if there will be some risk of nuclear fuel used as a low-tech dirty bomb, which as we understand is still possible with the fuel used for civilian reactors, it’s probably better for nations like the U.S. to play an active part in planning nuclear power in the Middle East so that it can keep things as transparent as possible.
This is because civilian reactors will inevitably be developed at any rate, especially in a nation flush with investment capital such as Saudi Arabia.
Already the U.A.E and Kuwait are planning nuclear power of their own as well. So it’s better to be a part of the plan, which might help add some slack to the oil market at the same time. Not sure how this will play with Iran though…
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