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Saudis Look To Enrich Uranium For Nuclear Power Program

Saudi Arabia plans to have uranium produced and enriched in the future for a civil nuclear power program, the newly-appointed Saudi energy minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, said on Monday.

“We are proceeding with it cautiously ... we are experimenting with two nuclear reactors,” Reuters quoted the minister as saying at a conference in Abu Dhabi in bin Salman’s first official appearance since he was named to replace Khalid al-Falih at the helm of the powerful energy ministry of Saudi Arabia.  

In recent years, Saudi Arabia has been planning to begin building a nuclear power plant with the help of U.S. technology. Last year, now former energy minister al-Falih said that the U.S. was not the only option for the Kingdom when it comes to developing nuclear energy projects.

Cooperation with the United States in the field of nuclear power is only possible for countries that sign the so-called 123 agreement, which stipulates a clear distinction between using nuclear technology for civil and for military purposes, and binds the signee to utilizing the technology for civil purposes only.

Referring to oil policies, the new Saudi energy minister assured markets on Monday saying that there would be no “radical” change in Saudi Arabia’s oil policy. 

Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s largest producer and de facto leader, will continue to work with other producers to reach oil market balance, adding that the OPEC+ coalition of producers would stay for the long term.

Asked if deeper cuts are needed to support oil prices—as analysts have suggested— Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said, as carried by Reuters:

“It would be wrong from my end to pre-empt the rest of the OPEC members.”

The new Saudi minister called on all members of the pact, however, to comply with their share of the production cuts. Saudi Arabia has been over-complying with the deal by more than half a million barrels a day, while other members such as Iraq and Nigeria have frequently exceeded their output caps.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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