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Tue 1 Nov 2011 04:49 PM

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UAE mulls financing structure for $20bn nuclear plan

Gulf state to push ahead with plan to build four reactors in wake of Fukushima crisis

UAE mulls financing structure for $20bn nuclear plan
ENEC is going ahead with plans to develop four nuclear reactors in the UAE

The UAE
aims to decide on the financing structure for its $20bn nuclear program and reach
a purchase agreement for uranium next year as it proceeds with its atomic-power
plan.

Emirates
Nuclear Energy Corp, the government-owned company developing the country’s
first nuclear plants, will submit a post-Fukushima report by the end of this
year to the country’s Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation, said Fahad
al-Qahtani, an ENEC spokesman.

The
federal authority is also reviewing ENEC’s construction license application
that was submitted at the end of 2010, which will take about 18 months.

“We
expect to have the review completed around July 2012, and that will be when we
look forward to get permission to start the construction of units one and two,”
al-Qahtani told reporters in Abu Dhabi today.

“First
concrete is scheduled for November 2012, pending regulatory approval.”

ENEC
is going ahead with plans to develop four nuclear reactors in the UAE even as
other countries halt atomic programs after the March earthquake and tsunami in
Japan caused radioactive material to be released from its Fukushima plant.

Korea
Electric Power Corp. won a contract in 2009 to complete construction of the
plants from 2017 to 2020, which will make the UAE the first Gulf Arab nation
with atomic power.

The
financing structure will be ready at the end of the first quarter, al-Qahtani
said.

Korea
Electric is supplying ENEC with third-generation APR-1400 reactors, which are
“the highest standard of safety and security,” he said.

The UAE
will select a uranium supplier in the first half of next year, Hamad al-Kaabi,
the national representative for International Nuclear Cooperation, said today.

“Our
nuclear policy states that we would favor sending back the spent fuel to the
country that supplied it,” al-Kaabi said at a conference in Abu Dhabi. “If that
is not feasible, we would consider storing it in the UAE, in underground
storage, for example.”

The Gulf
state has signed several bilateral agreements with potential fuel suppliers and
hopes to conclude a deal with Australia in the “near future,” said Kaabi, who
is also the country’s permanent representative to the International Atomic
Energy Agency.

The
Emirates should devote “more attention” to determining how to dispose of used
nuclear fuel as part of its energy development program, government adviser and
former United Nations chief weapons inspector Hans Blix said in February.
Options for storing the fuel include above- or underground storage of spent
fuel rods or leasing fuel that would then be sent back to the provider once
it’s been used, he said.

The UAE
won’t seek to enrich uranium or reprocess spent fuel rods, Blix said.

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