RIYADH, (Reuters) – Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia will sign later on Tuesday a bilateral agreement with France for cooperation on the development of peaceful nuclear energy, an official Saudi statement said.
Beyond the production of nuclear power, areas of cooperation will include research and development, training, safety and waste management, said the statement, of which Reuters obtained a copy ahead of the official signing.
This is the first nuclear agreement signed by Saudi Arabia.
The statement did not mention projects to build nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia, which wants to cut fossil fuel use within the next several decades.
“This agreement allows Saudi experts to study the French technology options, their financial requirements and implications for developing qualified national human resources,” the statement said.
Although it sits on the world’s largest oil and gas reserves, Saudi Arabia is struggling to keep up with rapidly rising power demand as petrodollars have fuelled a Gulf-wide economic boom as well as a rapid population growth.
Power demand is expected to trebled by 2032, requiring additional energy plants with total installed power production capacity of 80 gigawatts (GW). France has a total installed capacity of around 100 GW.
Saudi Arabia aims to study alternatives on offer worldwide as part of a long-term program to build alternative energy plants for electricity production and water desalination.