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Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih is optimistic that South Korea could end up in the shortlist to build nuclear power plants in Saudi Arabia, al-Falih said on Friday during a visit to South Korea.
Asked about the bidding on Saudi Arabia’s nuclear plants project, al-Falih said on the sidelines of an event that South Korea could expect a “good result” on the process, without elaborating further.
The Kingdom’s nuclear plan seeks the construction of 16 nuclear reactors within the next 20-25 years, for a total cost of over US$80 billion. The aim is to reduce the domestic consumption of crude oil, so more of it can be exported. Saudi Arabia currently uses about 25 percent of its oil production domestically, but demand for electricity is booming.
Saudi Arabia is in talks with 10 countries that could help it advance its nuclear power plans should the United States refuse to do that, the Kingdom’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said at the Munich Security Conference in February this year.
Cooperation with the U.S. 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. It seems that Saudi Arabia is not all too willing to sign such an agreement and is looking for alternative suppliers of know-how, even though Al-Jubeir made a point to say that Riyadh has no interest in using nuclear technology for military purposes.
In March, al-Falih said during Crown Prince Mohammed’s two-week visit in the United States that the U.S. was not Saudi Arabia’s only option when it comes to developing nuclear energy projects.
Meeting al-Falih in Seoul today, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in called for more cooperation between Saudi Arabia and South Korea and promoted South Korea’s nuclear power plant building capabilities and experience.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.