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Tue 15 Nov 2011 12:10 PM

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Saudi Arabia, S.Korea ink nuclear cooperation deal

Gulf kingdom is seeking to split its energy mix to meet rising power demand

Saudi Arabia, S.Korea ink nuclear cooperation deal
The deal marks the third nuclear agreement signed by Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has signed a bilateral agreement with South
Korea for cooperation on the development of nuclear energy as the world's top
oil exporter seeks to diversify its energy mix to meet rising power demand, the
Saudi government said on Tuesday.

The agreement calls for cooperation in research and
development, including building nuclear power plants and research reactors, as
well as training, safety and waste management, said the statement by King
Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (K.A.Care).

This is the third nuclear agreement Saudi Arabia signed
following similar deals with France and Argentina.

The city, established in 2010, also said it is currently in
talks with China, Russia, Czech Republic, Britain and the United States to negotiate
"further cooperation".

Although it sits on the world's biggest oil reserves, Saudi
Arabia is struggling to keep up with rapidly rising power demand expected to
triple by 2032 requiring additional energy plants with total installed power
production capacity of around 80 gigawatts (GW).

The kingdom plans to turn to solar and eventually nuclear
energy to reduce its need to burn fuel oil for electricity and preserve oil for
lucrative export markets. It may build up to 16 nuclear power reactors by 2030,
an official at K.A.Care said in June.

Meanwhile, South Korea aims to increase its reliance on
nuclear energy, undeterred by Japan's nuclear disaster, its deputy minister for
energy and resources policy said in April.

South Korea has 21 reactors in operation with nuclear power
accounting for 31.3 percent as of end-2010, according to latest data from the
South Korean government. In December 2009, the United Arab Emirates awarded a
South Korean consortium a contract to build four nuclear power plants worth
$20.4bn.

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