Ambitious nuclear programs

By Arthur Dunn

Recently, at least 40 developing countries around the world - from the Persian Gulf to Latin America - have appealed to UN officials in Vienna to indicate their interest in deploying programs to develop nuclear power. Experts in the field of nuclear non-proliferation are concerned about this trend, which, they say, can lead to the fact that at the disposal of a number of countries will be the elements necessary for the creation of a nuclear arsenal.

At least six countries in the past four years also said that they are also going to start enriching or reprocessing nuclear fuel. According to experts on non-proliferation of weapons and officials of nuclear agencies from America and other countries of the world, such a move can dramatically increase the number of plutonium and enriched uranium produced worldwide. The surge in interest in nuclear energy is explained by considerations of an economic nature, in particular the growing prices for organic fuels. However, officials say, in the case of some Middle Eastern countries that have huge oil and natural gas deposits such as Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, interest in investing in nuclear energy is partly due to concerns about the upcoming regional arms race. The source of these fears is, among other things, the alleged desire to create nuclear weapons from Iran.

Meanwhile, two of Iran's biggest rivals in the Middle East, Turkey and Egypt, are developing ambitious nuclear programs. These countries, decades ago, abandoned attempts to start the development of nuclear energy, but now in the next decade they intend to build seven nuclear facilities - four in Egypt and three in Turkey.

Back in 2015, the Egyptian government entered into an official contract with Russia to build the country's first nuclear power plant. This is a nuclear power plant with four nuclear power units with a capacity of 1,200 megawatts. During the visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin in December 2017 in Cairo, acts were signed on the entry into force of contracts for the project of the nuclear power plant "Ed-Dabaa". It is expected that the Zohr field will act as a magnet for investments in the oil and gas sector, and there is an assumption that it will turn Egypt into a regional energy hub. At the Zohr field, Egypt is currently saving more than $ 60 million a month to import natural gas. This amount will increase to $ 250 million per month by the end of 2018.

Work on the Zohr field, which has reserves of 30 trillion cubic feet of gas, was accelerated only 28 months instead of the expected 6-8 years that are needed to develop similar deposits elsewhere.

Field production began at 350 million cubic feet per day, when it was commissioned in late December 2017, and now it has reached 400 million cubic feet per day. By mid-2018, it is planned to increase up to 1 billion cubic feet of gas per day.

18.05.2018

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