A series of agreements aimed at supporting Saudi Arabia's nuclear energy program have been signed by France's EDF and Areva with Saudi organizations.
The agreements will help develop the country's supply chain and workforce.
Two sets of agreements were signed by Areva and EDF with Saudi companies and universities during a visit to Riyadh on 30 December by French president Francois Hollande.
The French companies signed memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with five Saudi manufacturers: Zamil Steel, Bahra Cables, Riyadh Cables, Saudi Pumps and Descon Olayan. These MoUs aim to develop the industrial and technical skills of local companies to form a domestic supply chain.
Areva and EDF also signed agreements with four Saudi universities: King Saud University in Riyadh; Prince Mohammed bin Fahd University in Al-Khobar; and Dar Al Hekma College and Effat University, both in Jeddah. These agreements are intended to contribute to the development of Saudi Arabia's nuclear expertise.
Separately, EDF signed an agreement with Saudi Arabia's Global Energy Holding Company (GEHC) for the creation of a joint venture whose first task will be to carry out feasibility studies for an EPR reactor in the country. GEHC was established in 2011 to invest in the development of energy-related businesses.
Areva, with the support of EDF, recently launched a training program to provide Saudi companies with an understanding of the safety and quality requirements specific to the nuclear industry. The first session of this program was hosted on 17-18 December by the National Institute of Technology in Bahra, near Jeddah.
Although Saudi Arabia's nuclear program is in its infancy, the kingdom has plans to construct 16 nuclear power reactors over the next twenty years. A 2010 royal decree identified nuclear power as essential to help meet growing energy demand for both electricity generation and water desalination while reducing reliance on depleting hydrocarbon resources.
The country has bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements with countries including China, Argentina, France and South Korea. Recent months have seen reactor vendors including Toshiba, Westinghouse, Exelon Nuclear Partners (ENP) and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy forge various agreements to work together on proposals for future Saudi nuclear plants. (World Nuclear News, 1/6/2014)