Japan offers Saudi nuclear expertise

Japan believed to want to secure more Saudi oil in case of supply instability
By Courtney Trenwith
Mon 11 Feb 2013 11:54 AM

Japan has offered to help Saudi Arabia build nuclear power stations to free up more oil for exports, Japanese news agencies are reporting.

A verbal agreement is believed to have been struck during Japanese Trade and Industry Minister Toshimitsu Motegi’s visit to Saudi Arabia on Saturday, with an accord to be signed at a later date.

Japan is attempting to secure more oil from the Kingdom in case of instability in world supply, while Saudi Arabia is under pressure to provide more electricity for its burgeoning population.

The Kingdom plans to build up to 17 gigawatts of nuclear power capacity at 16 nuclear reactors by 2030, which would offer a lifeline to the industry, hit by a lack of demand since the Fukushima disaster in 2011.

It already has signed nuclear cooperation agreement with China in January and with France, South Korea and Argentina last year.

However, Japan and Saudi Arabia are yet to finalise a nuclear cooperation pact, required for Tokyo to allow the export of such technology.

A Japanese official said the accord would take time, but in the meantime Japan could begin training Saudi engineers in how to manage atomic power.

The discussions also were attended by representatives from major Japanese companies, including Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., which explained its plan to build a local plant for repairing and maintaining gas turbines, and Mitsubishi Rayon Co., which said it will construct a facility to turn out products using acrylic resin, Reuters reported.

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