• 11 hours PDVSA Booted From Caribbean Terminal Over Unpaid Bills
  • 13 hours Russia Warns Ukraine Against Recovering Oil Off The Coast Of Crimea
  • 15 hours Syrian Rebels Relinquish Control Of Major Gas Field
  • 16 hours Schlumberger Warns Of Moderating Investment In North America
  • 17 hours Oil Prices Set For Weekly Loss As Profit Taking Trumps Mideast Tensions
  • 18 hours Energy Regulators Look To Guard Grid From Cyberattacks
  • 20 hours Mexico Says OPEC Has Not Approached It For Deal Extension
  • 21 hours New Video Game Targets Oil Infrastructure
  • 23 hours Shell Restarts Bonny Light Exports
  • 24 hours Russia’s Rosneft To Take Majority In Kurdish Oil Pipeline
  • 1 day Iraq Struggles To Replace Damaged Kirkuk Equipment As Output Falls
  • 1 day British Utility Companies Brace For Major Reforms
  • 2 days Montenegro A ‘Sweet Spot’ Of Untapped Oil, Gas In The Adriatic
  • 2 days Rosneft CEO: Rising U.S. Shale A Downside Risk To Oil Prices
  • 2 days Brazil Could Invite More Bids For Unsold Pre-Salt Oil Blocks
  • 2 days OPEC/Non-OPEC Seek Consensus On Deal Before Nov Summit
  • 2 days London Stock Exchange Boss Defends Push To Win Aramco IPO
  • 2 days Rosneft Signs $400M Deal With Kurdistan
  • 2 days Kinder Morgan Warns About Trans Mountain Delays
  • 2 days India, China, U.S., Complain Of Venezuelan Crude Oil Quality Issues
  • 2 days Kurdish Kirkuk-Ceyhan Crude Oil Flows Plunge To 225,000 Bpd
  • 3 days Russia, Saudis Team Up To Boost Fracking Tech
  • 3 days Conflicting News Spurs Doubt On Aramco IPO
  • 3 days Exxon Starts Production At New Refinery In Texas
  • 3 days Iraq Asks BP To Redevelop Kirkuk Oil Fields
  • 4 days Oil Prices Rise After U.S. API Reports Strong Crude Inventory Draw
  • 4 days Oil Gains Spur Growth In Canada’s Oil Cities
  • 4 days China To Take 5% Of Rosneft’s Output In New Deal
  • 4 days UAE Oil Giant Seeks Partnership For Possible IPO
  • 4 days Planting Trees Could Cut Emissions As Much As Quitting Oil
  • 4 days VW Fails To Secure Critical Commodity For EVs
  • 4 days Enbridge Pipeline Expansion Finally Approved
  • 4 days Iraqi Forces Seize Control Of North Oil Co Fields In Kirkuk
  • 4 days OPEC Oil Deal Compliance Falls To 86%
  • 5 days U.S. Oil Production To Increase in November As Rig Count Falls
  • 5 days Gazprom Neft Unhappy With OPEC-Russia Production Cut Deal
  • 5 days Disputed Venezuelan Vote Could Lead To More Sanctions, Clashes
  • 5 days EU Urges U.S. Congress To Protect Iran Nuclear Deal
  • 5 days Oil Rig Explosion In Louisiana Leaves 7 Injured, 1 Still Missing
  • 5 days Aramco Says No Plans To Shelve IPO
Alt Text

New Tech Is Transforming Japan’s Energy Sector

The tech that built bitcoin…

Alt Text

This OPEC Strategy Could Boost Uranium Prices Next Year

Kazakhstan, the world’s largest uranium…

Alt Text

Russia’s Nuclear Sector Is Surging

With a long-standing nuclear tradition,…

Eurasianet

Eurasianet

EurasiaNet.org provides information and analysis about political, economic, environmental and social developments in the countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus, as well as in…

More Info

Azerbaijan’s Plans for Nuclear Power Raise Concerns

Azerbaijan’s Plans for Nuclear Power Raise Concerns

At first glance, it doesn’t add up; why is Azerbaijan, a country brimming with oil and gas, interested in developing nuclear power capacity?

It’s a question befuddling local experts and environmental activists in Baku. But the questions don’t stop there. Under a May 8 executive order, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has given responsibility for the nuclear project not to the Ministry of Energy or the Ministry of Industry and Economy, but to the Ministry of Communications and High Technologies, specifically, to a National Center for Nuclear Research that is answerable to the ministry.

The executive order stressed that Azerbaijan’s nuclear capabilities would be “for peaceful purposes,” according to Azerbaijani news outlets.

Work on the nuclear project is slated to begin by the end of 2014, with a hoped-for completion date “within three to four years,” Communications Minister Ali Abbasov announced on his ministry’s website May 13. Abbasov did not specify the cost of the project or the scale of the future power plant, though he referred to the construction of “several nuclear reactors.”

In 2008, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) issued to Azerbaijan a preliminary agreement for construction of a single 10-15-megawatt nuclear reactor for research purposes. Baku has not yet formally applied to the IAEA for an agreement about additional reactors.

The nuclear facility would be situated on a plot of government-owned land 15 kilometers north of the capital, Baku.

Abbasov, a 61-year-old native of President Aliyev’s ancestral Nakhchivan region with a doctorate in microelectronics and a passion for digital IT, has no experience in nuclear energy. Nor, for that matter, do any of his deputies.

Baku’s interest in developing nuclear power dates back to the Soviet era. Those plans were mothballed amid the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, as well as Azerbaijan’s involvement in a prolonged conflict with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave.

France, which generates over three-quarters of its energy from nuclear power and already has longtime energy ties with the Aliyev administration, apparently senses an opportunity.

During his May 12 trip to Baku, French President François Hollande mentioned that unspecified French companies are willing to work with the Azerbaijani government on the construction of a nuclear-power plant. Earlier, Abbasov had named VINCI Construction Grands Projets, one of the world’s largest builders of mega-infrastructure facilities, as among the French concerns interested in getting involved in the nuclear project.

Some local economic experts question the logic behind Azerbaijan “going nuclear.”

Related Article: China National Nuclear Power Co. Plans $2.6B IPO

The country’s economic growth rate is relatively brisk; the Asian Development Bank projects up to 5 percent growth for 2014. Economist Natik Jafarly believes that oil-and-gas-rich Azerbaijan already has the energy and electricity it needs to keep its economy going strong.

According to official data, Azerbaijan in 2013 consumed 20.6 billion kWt/h of electricity out of a production supply of 21.5 billion kWt/h. The extra supply was exported to neighboring Georgia and Russia.

Azerbaijan, though, does not produce uranium or nuclear fuel, and would have to look for exporters. “It will make Azerbaijan dependent on uranium price-changes and also politically dependent [on exporting countries],” argued Jafarly, head of the non-governmental Society of Economic Bloggers. The government has not named any possible sources for such uranium supplies.

Other experts believe that the plant will not generate power. In February 2012, the director of Azerbaijan’s National Academy of Sciences' Institute for Radiation Problems, Adil Garibov, told ANS TV that the government would build a reactor strictly for research purposes, including the production of isotopes for use in medical treatments. Garibov added that his institute had hired 16 young physicists who were being trained at nuclear centers abroad for such tasks.

Whatever the project’s purpose, environmentalist Farida Huseynova, head of the Greens Movement of Azerbaijan, believes that the 2011 Fukushima and 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disasters show that the dangers of nuclear power outweigh the benefits for a country like Azerbaijan. “Supporters of this project say that Azerbaijani scientists will get the chance to conduct nuclear research. However, there are very few such nuclear physicists in Azerbaijan and they could do their research in other countries,” Huseynova said.

Rather than nuclear power, building up alternative energy resources well suited to Azerbaijan’s climate and geography – hydropower, solar power or wind power – would be preferable, she underlined. Jafarly agreed, noting the contradiction with the Azerbaijani government’s long-term demand that neighboring Armenia close its 38-year-old Metsamor plant, currently the only nuclear facility in the South Caucasus, because of its regional environmental risk.

“Since Baku consistently demands the closure of the Armenian plant, it is not clear why the government wants to create a new threat on its own territory,” Jafarly said.

As yet, government officials have not commented publicly on the nuclear project.

By Shahin Abbasov




Back to homepage


Leave a comment

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News