Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia agree to nuclear cooperation

26 October 2016

Saudi Arabia and Kazakhstan have signed an agreement to cooperate in the peaceful use of nuclear energy. The agreement was signed in Riyadh yesterday during a visit by Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Kazakhstan-Saudi Arabia - October 2016 - 460 (Akorda)
President Nazarbayev (left) and King Salman (right) meet in Riyadh (Image: Akorda) 

The agreement was signed by Kazakh energy minister Kanat Bozumbayev and King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KA-CARE) president Hashim bin Abdullah Yamani. The signing was witnessed by Nazarbayev and Saudi's Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

Following a meeting with Saudi Arabia's minister of energy, industry and mineral resource, Khalid Al-Falih, on 24 October, Bozumbayev said, "Kazakhstan is a leader in the production of natural uranium. We have a joint venture with Russia for uranium enrichment. We produce [fuel] pellets; we are at the stage of creating fuel assemblies. We have the necessary experience, which we can share with our Saudi colleagues."

Kazakhstan has 12% of the world's uranium resources and an expanding mining sector, producing about 23,800 tonnes in 2015, and planning for further increase to 2018. A single Russian nuclear power reactor operated from 1972 to 1999, generating electricity and desalinating water. Kazakh plans for future nuclear power include 300 MWe class units as well as smaller cogeneration units in regional cities. In 2012 the government had a draft master plan of power generation development in the country until 2030. According to this plan, a nuclear electricity share then should be about 4.5%, requiring about 900 MWe of nuclear capacity.

Saudi Arabia is one of several Middle Eastern states looking into setting up a nuclear power program. Although its nuclear program is in its infancy, the Kingdom has plans to construct 16 nuclear power reactors over the next 20 years. A 2010 royal decree identified nuclear power as essential to help meet growing energy demand for both electricity generation and water desalination, while reducing reliance on depleting hydrocarbon resources.

Saudi Arabia has signed similar nuclear cooperation agreements with Argentina, China, Finland, France, Hungary, Indonesia, Russia and South Korea.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News