France to study reactor construction in Saudi Arabia

26 June 2015

Saudi Arabia and France signed three nuclear-related cooperation agreements in Paris on 24 June. One is to carry out a feasibility study for the construction of two power reactors in the Middle Eastern country.

Following the first meeting of the Franco-Saudi Joint Commission, led by French foreign minister Laurent Fabius and Saudi defence minister Prince Mohamed bin Salman, the two countries agreed to finalize several agreements. These included accords on the supply of aircraft and helicopters to Saudi Arabia and for supporting finance and investment between the two countries.

A letter of intent for the reactor feasibility study on the construction of two nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia was signed by Fabius and Hashim Abdullah Yamani, president of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KA-CARE).

In a statement, KA-CARE said, "The letter of intent is centred on mutual cooperation to study the feasibility of constructing two reactors having specific specifications." It added that the agreement will further contribute to the development and strengthening of mutual relations in the best interests of both sides, both in the economic and technical fields.

A statement from the French ministry of foreign affairs noted that the feasibility study concerned the construction of two EPR reactors, "which forms part of the ambitious energy program in Saudi Arabia".

A memorandum of cooperation was also signed by KA-CARE senior advisor Abdullah Ibn Abdulrahman Al-Hamoudi and Pierre Abady, executive director of France's national radioactive waste disposal organisation, Andra. "The memorandum aims at providing assistance to both sides to further improve the functions assigned to them in such areas as policy implementation, standards, directive regulations and guidelines in the field of radioactive waste management," KA-CARE's statement said.

A memorandum of understanding on cooperation in radiation protection was also signed by Al-Hamoudi and Jacques Repussard, director general of France's Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN).

France and Saudi Arabia signed a nuclear cooperation agreement in February 2011. In July 2013, Areva and EDF agreed to help train workers for Saudi Arabia's planned nuclear power industry. The two companies signed a series of agreement in January 2014 to help develop the country's supply chain and workforce.

Saudi Arabia also has bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements with countries including Argentina, China, Russia and South Korea.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News