By Neeraj Gangal
20-year deal to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes - French official.
Kuwait and France will sign an agreement on Thursday to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, a French official said.
"This is an intergovernmental agreement for cooperation between the French and Kuwaiti governments," Bernard Bigot, chairman of France's atomic energy commission told reporters at Kuwait's parliament.
The 20-year agreement is the first step to developing nuclear energy in Kuwait for peacuful purposes such as providing electricity and water desalination, Bigot said.
"After signing we will be starting discussion, sharing information in such a way that the Kuwaitis will make their own decision and how to move forward," he said.
Kuwait, an OPEC oil exporter, is facing rising energy demands and has experienced power cuts in the past, especially during the hot summer months when air conditioning use rises.
All six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council UAE, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman, have shown interest in nuclear power to meet soaring domestic demand for electricity and to free more oil and gas for export.
Kuwait held talks with France's Areva this year, while France and Saudi Arabia have said they are close to finalising a civilian nuclear energy cooperation agreement.
In December, the UAE signed a $40 billion deal to acquire nuclear reactors with a consortium led by state-owned utility Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO). (Reuters)