Breaking News from Nuclear Energy Insider: Saudi Arabia Commits Over $100 Billion to Nuclear New Build

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This week Saudi Arabia’s KA CARE (King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy) confirmed plans to build the nation’s first fleet of 16 nuclear reactors by 2030. Nuclear Energy Insider investigates...

At a cost of over $100 Billion this nuclear mega-project is the most lucrative energy contract in the Middle East and North Africa and over five times as large as the current nuclear contract from neighbouring nuclear utility ENEC in the UAE.

The huge cost of the contract is easily supported as Saudi are the world's largest oil exporter, which further makes their plan to build the new nuclear power stations an extremely smart business decision.
Saudi Arabia are the Middle East’s fastest growing energy consumer and have been increasingly struggling with this rapidly escalating power demand, which is solely secured by the oil & gas reserves of the nation. The use of natural resources for domestic power requirements costs Saudi hundreds of $Billions each year and the choice to develop nuclear will generate a rapid increase in lucrative oil exports which were previously set aside for the domestic energy needs.

Last week Arab News released indications that the contract for the project could easily escalate to over $300 Billion by the time that the final units are deployed in 2030. By this time it is estimated that over 20% of the nation’s energy needs will be met by the new nuclear power plants.

However, the question must be asked who will build these plants and who will operate them? As the Middle East and North Africa has no past experience within the nuclear industry there may be large financial and scheduling risks associated with the development of nuclear power. Each reactor is estimated to cost $7 billion if it is delivered on budget – however as recent new build projects such as Olkiluoto and Flamanville have shown, even in the most hospitable construction conditions it is easy for complex construction projects to suffer huge delays and uncurr $billions of excess spending.

In response to this some key EPC contractors have been offering MENA nations innovative construction methods, new technologies and contracting models that support construction in difficult desert conditions. This includes consortium support networks from major nuclear contractor Shaw, reference plant designs from Korean firm KEPCO (who won the UAE nuclear contract) and AtomstroyExprot who are offering a “Build-Own-Operate” contracting model which is being implemented in Turkey and Argentina.

With nuclear commitments from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan, Egypt, Kuwait and surrounding nations such as Oman, Bahrain and Morocco actively looking towards nuclear power - the Middle East and North Africa is the most exciting and lucrative nuclear market which is offering the global nuclear industry major new projects which are supported by real financial muscle.

On the 26-27 September the global nuclear community will be meeting in Dubai to participate in the 2nd Annual MENA Nuclear Construction Conference. KA CARE, Jordan Atomic Energy Commission, EDF, Rosatom, ESKOM, WANO, IAEA, ESCA, KEPCO, Shaw and AtomstroyExport amongst others will be sharing experiences on how to develop nuclear construction projects across the Middle East and North Africa.

If you want to find out more information about this industry lead meeting download the conference brochure here:


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Tommy Angell
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