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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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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…