Who’s Going Nuclear in the Middle East?

nuclear middle eastA handy chart to plot which Middle East countries are going nuclear.

Ever since oil was discovered in the Middle East around 1950 it has gas been the driving force behind the region’s transformation. But as of late a new focus has emerged based on both an ever increasing demands for electricity but also a push to cut carbon emissions. And while not officially mentioned the Middle East needs to prepare for the day that the oil runs out: what environmentalists are calling “peak oil.” In addition to Iran, which has a highly controversial nuclear program, seven other counties in the region are proposing or have already started their own programs, according to a report by Power-Gen Worldwide.

A Regional Surge

The seven other countries includes Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). [click on the country names to read previous Green Prophet stories on these countries’ nuclear ambitions.] There is also Israel, although it “likes” to be included among EU countries.

The UAE might be the smallest of the countries but it has the most ambitious of all programs with a total of 14 power plants proposed, with a combined production capacity of 14, 400 MW. (One thousand MW could power about 250,000 American homes.) The ground work for the first four are already underway.

Outside Cooperation

While signing a cooperation and transparency deal with the US, the UAE in the end awarded the contract to a South Korean consortium.

For the American companies, chiefly GE, it lost out on the bid in the UAE as Egypt recently announced that it will reward a contract for the construction its first nuclear power plant in the coming months.

Kuwait is looking to France for assistance as it tries to keep up with ever increasing electricity demand by its population, and to keep its massive desalination plants working, earlier this year signed an agreement with the French company Areva.

The rise in power consumption is one of the main reasons that may believe that Saudi Arabia will soon announce its nuclear power program, according to some estimations the electricity use in Saudi is increasing by 8-10 percent every year.

Riches in the Ground

Jordan might not have been blessed with the vast underground reserves of oil as some of its neighbors, but the country might very well have some of the region’s largest deposits of uranium, the principal fuel for a nuclear power plant.

Raising hope of not only having enough to fuel its own program but also to export to other countries as well proving much needed income.

::Power-Gen Worldwide

More on nuclear energy:

Egypt’s Long Path to Nuclear Power

Saudi Aramco’s 80-Year Reserves vs. German “Peak Oil”

Abu Dhabi Should Opt for Solar Not Nuclear for Future Needs

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