By Andy Sambidge
US, Canadian, European firms win deals to supply UAE's first nuclear power plants to 2032
A group of international suppliers have been awarded contracts to meet the UAE's nuclear fuel requirements over the first 15 years of operation.
The UAE's nuclear operator, the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) said the total of six contracts were valued at about $3bn.
The contracted fuel will enable the Barakah plant to generate up to 450 million MWh for a period of 15 years starting in 2017, when the first nuclear energy unit is scheduled to begin operating.
The deals include the purchase of natural uranium concentrates, uranium conversion and enrichment services and the purchase of enriched uranium, ENEC said in a statement.
ENEC said the enriched uranium will be supplied to KEPCO Nuclear Fuels (KNF), which will manufacture the fuel assemblies for use in the four planned UAE units.
KNF is a member of ENEC's prime contract consortium, led by Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO).
Starting in 2014-2015, US-based ConverDyn will provide conversion services; Canada's Uranium One, Inc will provide natural uranium, UK-based URENCO will provide enrichment services and Rio Tinto will provide natural uranium.
ENEC added that Russia's TENEX will supply uranium concentrates, conversion services and enrichment services which France-based AREVA will provide uranium concentrates, conversion services and enrichment services.
ENEC's CEO Mohamed Al Hammadi said: "The completion of the fuel supply strategy is a key achievement to ENEC's programme and a clear example of how the UAE continues to set the gold standard for implementing a peaceful nuclear energy programme.
"These contracts will provide ENEC with long-term security of supply, high quality fuel and favorable pricing and commercial terms. We are also pleased that this marks the start of long-term commercial relationships with companies that have earned excellent reputations in the industry."
ENEC is planning to build four 1,400MW nuclear energy units at the recently approved site, Barakah, in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi.
In July, ENEC received regulatory approval from both the Environment Agency of Abu Dhabi and the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation for the construction of the first two nuclear energy units in Barakah.
Pending further regulatory approvals, the first unit is scheduled to begin delivering electricity to the grid in 2017. The remaining three units are scheduled to come on line in 2018, 2019 and 2020.For all the latest energy and oil news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
While it is laudable that the UAE is seeking to generate power from non-carbon spewing methods, I have serious concerns about the choice of nuclear power. Most of the countries that are using nuclear reactors to generate energy are slowly reducing their dependence by closing down aging reactors and shifting to more environmentally friendly sources like wind and solar power. The Masdar initiative is a correct move towards clean and sustainable energy development. In this part of the world where blistering temperatures in summer can be hazardous to concrete structures reducing their lifespan, such may prove disastrous!