Saudi Arabia said it’s interested in studying technology for small modular nuclear reactors, as the Middle East’s largest oil producer looks to diversify its energy sources and generate cleaner power for domestic use and export.
(Bloomberg) — Saudi Arabia said it’s interested in studying technology for small modular nuclear reactors, as the Middle East’s largest oil producer looks to diversify its energy sources and generate cleaner power for domestic use and export.
The kingdom is “a late-comer” to nuclear power and aims to study all types and applications of atomic generation, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, the Saudi energy minister, said Sunday at a climate conference in the capital, Riyadh. Saudi Arabia has been building a test reactor and is seeking US assistance as it looks to develop a nuclear program.
The Persian Gulf is becoming the focus in the fight against climate change later this year as the United Arab Emirates prepares to host the annual United Nations summit aimed at protecting the environment and curbing emissions. But while OPEC members Saudi Arabia and the UAE work to develop renewable sources like solar power and carbon-capture systems, they’re also investing to expand oil-output capacity.
“There is a case for us to continue to be in oil and to continue to be in gas,” Prince Abdulaziz said. “Although the share of oil and gas may diminish” it will still be part of an overall energy system that could see demand double by the middle of the century, he said.
Investing in oil and gas along with other supplies shows Middle Eastern countries are serious about being responsible suppliers of energy to global markets, Suhail Al Mazrouei, the UAE energy minister, said on a panel with his Saudi colleague.
Saudi Arabia is also exploring for geothermal energy, including in western areas of the country that are far from fossil fuel resources, and is developing new carbon capture capacity, Prince Abdulaziz said.
Members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies including Russia have been restricting output as they seek to bolster prices and eliminate an overhang of crude in storage. Oil declined about $10 a barrel last week as investors remain concerned about the strength of global economies and energy demand.
–With assistance from Fahad Abuljadayel.
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