Kingdom, Russia can forge nuclear power cooperation
10 January 2018 | Saudi Gazette

The Saudi-Russian relations have witnessed lots of development recently in several areas, especially on economy. For an in-depth understanding of the growing relations between the two countries, Saudi Gazette interviewed Evgeny Pakermanov, the president of Rusatom Overseas (a subsidiary of Rosatom), a leading company that’s main objective is to maintain Russia’s leading position in the global nuclear market.

Pakermanov talked about the potential the two big companies have in this sector.

Pakermanov said that they are naturally positive “in our assessment of Saudi Arabia’s initiatives in developing peaceful uses of nuclear power”.

“We see an intense interest on behalf of the Kingdom’s government in developing nuclear power, and a deep understanding of the country’s energy needs. We’d also like to highlight our partners’ integrated approach to developing KSA’s nuclear power program. Also importantly, the Saudi side is correctly placing an emphasis on preparing its nuclear cadre,” he added.

Pakermanov stressed that the Russian side’s awareness that “Saudi Arabia’s long-term plans include the introduction of 17 GWE of nuclear capacities into the national grid”.

These ambitious goals are to be welcomed because a nuclear power plant is not only a source of stable electric power at competitive prices “but also a huge stimulus for the development of other industries such as construction, machine-building, chemicals, agriculture, medicine, education etc.,” he emphasized.

“Significantly, the development of a nuclear power program also means the development of basic green power generation aimed at reducing CO2 emissions, which is fully in line with the contemporary trend of forming a low-carbon energy mix, where nuclear power acts as a source of baseload power with a stable, predictable and, above all, affordable electricity pricing” he added.

Speaking of the cooperation between the two countries in this area, Pakermanov expressed: “I’m pleased to note the positive dynamics in our cooperation with Saudi Arabia.

On June 18, 2015, Rosatom and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia signed an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy that opened up opportunities for cooperation across a wide range of areas in power generation as well as in nuclear research.

On October 5, 2017, during King Salman visit to Russia, Rosatom and King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE) signed a program for cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, which outlines several key directions, incl. small and medium reactors that can be used for both power generation and desalination, training personnel for the Saudi national nuclear power program and developing its national nuclear infrastructure. We also agreed to assess the prospects of establishing a center for nuclear science and technology in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia based on a Russian-design research reactor.

As you will know, recently Rosatom and KACARE signed the Roadmap on cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, which includes a series of steps required for the implementation of the Program.”

What are your expectations for the future?

“In terms of energy-related projects, we are offering the world’s most cutting-edge Generation 3+reactor technology, the VVER-1200, which has already been implemented in Russia last year, the world’s first Generation 3+ nuclear power unit was launched at the Novovoronezh NPP in Russia (Unit 6), while December 2017 saw the second uch unit (Unit 1 of the Leninigrad-2 NPP) achieve first criticality. This technology has a number of technical and economic benefits and was developed to take into account all modern safety requirements including the so-called post-Fukushima safety requirements, a combination of active and passive safety systems, increased equipment service lifetime requirements etc.

These projects include NPP construction projects in Bangladesh, Turkey and Egypt. Importantly, in all of these instances, we are offering our integrated offer that includes a full range of services, from assistance in developing the regulatory framework to NPP decommissioning,” he added.

He concluded by showing full readiness to cooperate with Saudi partners, “Our experience of more than 70 years enables us to offer competitive solutions and services in non-energy technologies, which include nuclear medicine, desalination, agricultural irradiation, research reactors, as well as nuclear personnel training and assistance in the development of a country’s nuclear infrastructure and we are fully supporting the Kingdom’s ambitious vision 2030”.