UK firms 'eye UAE nuclear energy deals'

Britain's ambassador says Rolls-Royce could be front-runner for investment.
By Diana Milne
Thu 28 Aug 2008 12:06 PM

The British Government is hoping to broker deals between UK companies and the UAE to develop civil nuclear energy, the country’s ambassador has revealed.

Edward Oakden said he sees strong potential for British companies, in particular Rolls-Royce, to invest in the development of civil nuclear energy in the UAE.

This would, he said, “serve to meet the urgent energy gap that the country will be facing over the next ten years.”

“We’ve been glad to support very fervently the aspirations of the Abu Dhabi leadership and indeed the federal government to develop a civil nuclear industry to be fully in conformity with international requirements,” said Oakden in an interview with CEO Middle East.

“We firmly believe for example that the UK has got an extremely strong offer to make.

“For instance Rolls-Royce provides the instrumentation panels for all the civil reactors in France.”

He went on to say that Rolls-Royce sees such high potential in the civil nuclear energy business, that has set up a division “specifically to take forward the opportunities in the civil nuclear industry that are likely to emerge worldwide in the next 20 or 30 years”.

So far France, which produces 80% of its own electricity through nuclear power, has led the way in establishing partnerships with the UAE government to develop civil nuclear energy.

In March the UAE congress signed a deal with the France to co-operate on the development of nuclear energy for “peaceful purposes”.

French companies Total, Suez and Areva have all expressed interest in joining forces with the UAE to develop plants for two new generation nuclear reactors in the UAE – thought to be targeted for completion in 2015.

Oakden also revealed that major deals are in the pipeline between UK energy companies and Abu Dhabi’s Masdar Initiative.

He said that, along with the British royal family, he had been working to build links between Masdar and top British companies specialising in renewable energy.

Describing an event held in July by HRH the Duke of York at Buckingham Palace, which was attended by Dr Sultan Al Jaber CEO of the Masdar Initiative and HE Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, chairman of Abu Dhabi’s Executive Affairs Authority, Oakden said: “Recently the Duke of York organised a very high profile seminar in Buckingham Palace which brought together well over 100 leading British energy companies with the Masdar team so that they could join up Masdar’s wish to invest in British technology in the renewable energy area with the desire of those British companies to find the right sort of opportunities for investment.”

Following the event at which Sir John Rose, CEO of Rolls Royce was also present, he said that a number of business partnerships had been established.

“In fact since the event there have been a number of very promising partnerships which have started to be developed.”

Masdar (Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company) – is creating the world’s first carbon neutral, waste free and car free zone, Masdar City, which will be located close to Abu Dhabi Airport and will be completed by 2015.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Subscribe to Arabian Business' newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and business stories in Dubai,the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.