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Zainab Calcuttawala

Zainab Calcuttawala

Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…

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Saudi Arabia Expects To Finalize First Nuclear Reactor Contracts In 2018

Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih expects to sign two new nuclear reactor contracts by the end of next year, according to a new report by Reuters.

Falih made the remarks at a press conference in the country’s capital, adding that the Jizan oil refinery would also go online some time in 2018.

In his recent trip to Saudi Arabia, U.S. Energy Secretary Perry discussed Riyadh’s plans to embark on a 16-nuclear reactor building spree. The country, which suffers from electricity shortages, intends to add over two decades 17 GW of nuclear electric and 40 GW of solar generating capacity to its grid. Their grid presently has power generating capacity of only 55 GWs implying a virtual doubling of capacity. If Saudi Arabia makes its plans a reality, it would become the fourth nation in the Middle East region with a commercial nuclear power program.

To begin the process, the Saudis has solicited bids for two reactors with an estimated combined capacity of 2.8 gigawatts. Bids for these initial projects are expected from at least five national consortia: South Korean, French, Russian, Chinese and American.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s (MBS) Vision 2030 aims to lower fossil fuel’s hold on the Saudi energy mix from 75 percent to 40 percent. Nuclear power and solar energy both play large roles in achieving that goal, but making the plan a reality requires a successful Saudi Aramco initial public offering in 2018.

The IPO, the largest of its kind in financial history, would make just a five percent portion of the oil giant accessible to private investors. Still, the volume of the company’s assets guarantee MBS the capital he needs to retrain the Saudi work force, develop a services sector, and tone down the influence of the fossil fuel interests.

By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com

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  • Douglas Houck on December 21 2017 said:
    Another great example that the world is moving toward electrification of everything (especially EVs).

    Notice the planned capacities? Nuclear is going to supply a small amount of base load, with solar providing the majority of future capacity.

    " over two decades 17 GW of nuclear electric and 40 GW of solar generating capacity to its grid."

    Assuming an open and fair competition, I would bet that Russia is the winner. Is there an American nuclear power design company?
  • RefMan on December 21 2017 said:
    Sitting on an ocean of oil and NG, and they decide to build nuclear. Also happen to be in a very sunny area that would be great for solar. In 5 years when those nuclear projects are Billions of $$$ over budget, they'll realize they made a colossal blunder.

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