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Friday, September 24, 2010

Lawmaker questions Kuwait's nuclear energy plans

A Kuwaiti lawmaker on Thursday questioned plans by the oil-rich Gulf emirate to build a number of nuclear reactors for power generation and demanded information about the expected costs. In a series of questions to Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah, the head of parliament's financial and economic affairs panel, Yussef al-Zalzalah, asked if sufficient studies have been made on the issue.
He also demanded to know the size of the budget allocated for the project and what has been spent so far.
In its drive to develop nuclear energy for peaceful use, particularly to generate electricity, the Gulf state set up Kuwait National Nuclear Energy Committee (KNENEC) in 2009 headed by the prime minister.
The emirate has signed memoranda of cooperation with France, the United States, Japan and Russia and, in April, upgraded its deal with France to the level of a full agreement.
KNNEC secretary general Ahmad Bishara said earlier this month that Kuwait will sign a fifth memorandum of cooperation with South Korea, which last year clinched a multi-billion-dollar deal with the neighbouring United Arab Emirates.
Zalzalah also inquired about press statements that Kuwait planned to build four 1,000-megawatt nuclear reactors by 2022, and if sufficient studies were made, and demanded documents related to the issue.
Kuwait's deals with the nuclear powers call for preparation, planning and nuclear power development which include training, human resources and infrastructure.
Bishara has said Kuwait expects electricity demand to double in 10 to 15 years from the current 11,000 megawatts, which would make the country face a serious power shortage.
The OPEC member currently burns 12 percent of its oil production to meet local electricity needs, and the figure will rise to 20 percent by 2030 if no alternative sources of energy are found, Bishara said.
Kuwait currently pumps around 2.3 million barrels of oil per day.
If the nuclear plans proceed as projected, Bishara estimated nuclear power would meet 15-20 percent of Kuwait's total electricity needs.
KNNEC is conducting a series of studies on the cost of power generation by nuclear energy, setting up legal frameworks, reviews on potential sites for nuclear reactors and human resources, Bishara said.
These studies are expected to be completed before the end of the year, and then the KNNEC will make the decision if Kuwait is to go nuclear, he said.

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