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PostPosted: Mar 22, 2014 7:54 pm 
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Will President Obama Prioritize Nuclear Cooperation with Saudi Arabia?

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The Kingdom plans to build sixteen nuclear power plants at an estimated cost of $112 billion to meet its electricity needs as the country aims to transform herself into one of the world’s largest nuclear producers. Saudi Arabia, along with her Gulf Cooperation Council allies, currently consume more primary energy than the whole of Africa, yet have one-twentieth of Africa’s population. Almost 100 percent of that energy is produced from oil and gas without carbon dioxide abatement. If the region’s fuel demand continues to rise as it has over the past decade, energy consumption would double by 2024. In line with these trends, Saudi Arabia’s position as the world’s largest swing producer of petroleum could decline. As global energy production costs are not declining, it is not surprising that the Kingdom has chosen a nuclear power strategy to maintain its oil generated export revenues as it accounts for 80 percent of its national revenue. Saudi Arabia’s growing energy demand coupled with its generous domestic energy subsidies could therefore potentially curtail the country’s ability to export its oil and gas liquids. While these trends pose clear challenges to the Saudi treasury, they also present opportunities for US businesses to enter what could become the world’s largest nuclear market: Saudi Arabia also has the necessary capital markets and financial resources required to support its apparent energy transformation vision.


Related:

CSIS: Don’t Blame ENR


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PostPosted: Mar 23, 2014 11:11 am 
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"there are experts who believe Saudi oil production has already peaked or will do so in the near future.[" from

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil_reserves_in_Saudi_Arabia

I've been hearing that their reserves are going down for some time. They've been pumping oil from that land for a long time. Perhaps the leaders are planning a future less dependent on oil. King Hubbert's peak oil thing is not just a theory. Resources are finite.

The Saudis have still got a lot of cash flow coming in to their country. Is there any possibility that they would be interested in financing development of the LFTR? If they held key patents, they could remain kings of energy with a lessened oil supply.


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PostPosted: Mar 23, 2014 6:42 pm 
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"The Saudis have still got a lot of cash flow coming in to their country. Is there any possibility that they would be interested in financing development of the LFTR? If they held key patents, they could remain kings of energy with a lessened oil supply."

Seems worth asking.

I know KSA is a major owner of cell phone service in the U.S.. Its neighbor Abu Dhabi is the owner of global chip maker Global Foundries (that is heavily subsidized by New York State, go figure).


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PostPosted: Mar 23, 2014 8:21 pm 
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Investment in nuclear power, in their home country, will be politically safer than in non-Muslim countries.


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PostPosted: Mar 27, 2014 11:38 am 
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Fat chance they'll be buying American-designed reactors. In all likelihood they'll buy from Russia, China, or South Korea. If their approach is similar to what they did in Oil & Gas, they'll build out nuclear in two phases.

Phase 1: Foreign designed reactors, built by foreign contractors, operated by domestic utilities with foreign contractors.
Phase 2: Foreign designed reactors, built by domestic contractors, operated by domestic utilities.

I doubt they'll ever proceed to phase 3, where the reactors are domestically designed. China is just getting to that phase, but China has a long history of insular economic policies. Stopping at phase 2 is similar to the Saudi approach to Oil & Gas: ownership is via the State, but foreign oil services firms still dominate. I don't know enough about Saudi Arabia to be sure, but I'd guess the main barrier to phase 3 is labor supply. You need a lot of training and/or education resources devoted to engineering if you're going to make it to phase 3.

The NPT really needs to be comprehensively reworked. It has effectively prevented nuclear POWER proliferation while encouraging nuclear WEAPONS proliferation to occur through (secret) domestic development. A completely wrong headed approach. It's easier to monitor proliferation when the expertise is not spread widely.


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PostPosted: Mar 27, 2014 1:04 pm 
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Luc Oursel thinks Areva has a chance to win Saudi reactor contracts.

Incidentally, in re. the news that Kenya and Nigeria want to build nuclear reactors, it occurred to me that NuScale's SMR might be a good fit, in that they can start with 45MWe, and grow from there, as their revenue and expertise increase.


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PostPosted: Mar 27, 2014 2:06 pm 
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Cthorm wrote:
Fat chance they'll be buying American-designed reactors. In all likelihood they'll buy from Russia, China, or South Korea.


Not South Korea. They use US-licensed technology. That's why the UAE had to have a section 123 agreement with the US before the South Koreans could build their four reactors at Barakah.


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PostPosted: Mar 28, 2014 6:27 am 
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Kirk Sorensen wrote:

That's why the UAE had to have a section 123 agreement with the US before the South Koreans could build their four reactors at Barakah.


My understanding is that agreement is up for re-negotiation and S Korea wants to be able to reprocess spent fuel, i.e. end of the 123


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PostPosted: Mar 28, 2014 7:36 am 
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As I understand it Japan has a 123 agreement with reprocessing rights.

But then again there does not appear to be such an agreement with Britain, presumably similar functionality is provided by the 58 Mutual Defence Pact?


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PostPosted: Mar 28, 2014 11:13 pm 
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Doesn't Japan send their fuel to France to be reprocessed?

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PostPosted: Mar 28, 2014 11:43 pm 
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KitemanSA wrote:
Doesn't Japan send their fuel to France to be reprocessed?

Yes.
Quote:
NUCLEAR NEWS FLASHES - Monday, February 12, 2007
INTERNATIONAL NEWS:
--THE TWELFTH AND LAST VITRIFIED WASTE SHIPMENT FROM FRANCE TO JAPAN is headed
for its destination via the Panama Canal, Areva NC said February 9. The specialized vessel, the Pacific Sandpiper, left the port of Cherbourg February 8 and is expected to reach the Japanese port of Mutsu-Ogawa in the second half of March. It is carrying six casks with 130 containers of vitrified high-level waste coming from reprocessing of Japanese spent fuel at Areva's La Hague complex. The first such shipment occurred in 1995; 10 others occurred between 1997 and 2006. Over that period, some 2,900 metric tons heavy metal of Japanese spent fuel were reprocessed and 1,300 casks totaling almost 700 metric tons of waste were returned to Japan, according to Areva. Japanese utilities stopped sending spent fuel to Europe in 1990 in anticipation of reprocessing at their domestic plant at Rokkashomura, which just began operation.


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PostPosted: Mar 29, 2014 11:45 am 
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If the KSA can substitute cheap nuclear for expensive oil it improves their profitability. No point in burning valuable oil to make hot water. KSA is also investing in in-country chemical/plastics industry to use their oil feedstock rather than let others take the value add profit. They are not stupid, just brutal, cruel and superstitious.


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PostPosted: Mar 30, 2014 10:10 am 
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Nuclear Kingdom: Saudi Arabia's Atomic Ambitions

The combination of Saudi Arabia's nuclear energy ambitions and the threat of Iran could break the NNPT, in my opinion. If Iran announces that they have nuclear weapons, breaking their NNPT pledge, then Saudi Arabia would almost certainly break their NNPT pledge and obtain nuclear weapons, most likely from Pakistan.

If those two countries break out of the NNPT, following the Ukraine debacle, then the entire NNPT framework could potentially collapse and we could be thrown back into the political chaos of the 1960s when even seemingly innocuous countries like Sweden had plans to develop nuclear weapons.

The NNPT is flawed but I'm not sure how much better we could do. I continue to believe that the failure of the weapons-states (US, Russia, UK, France, and China) to live up to their NNPT commitments and destroy their nuclear weapons stockpiles has led to a weakening of the treaty over time. The non-weapons states would never again believe a new incarnation of the NNPT where the weapons states made a similar promise.


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PostPosted: Mar 30, 2014 12:00 pm 
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112 billion for 16 reactors, that's 7 billion a pop. Sounds expensive. Saudi's usually import cheap laborers for most of the workforce, and as of yet lack the paranoid licensing framework that endlessly burdens cost. Can't they get better prices?


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PostPosted: Mar 30, 2014 12:14 pm 
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On a recent visit to the Arabian peninsula, a friend described to me the common sentiment that Arab countries have towards new technology:

"They want the very best of the old technology. They don't want to try anything new."


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