Saudia Arabia Plans Nuclear Energy RFI for 2.8 GWe

  • The plan is for a modest 2.8 Gwe of power far smaller than the 16 GWe reported in 2014.
  • Details revealed by Newsweek about former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn’s untimely efforts to secure nuclear energy deals in Saudi Arabia and Jordan

Reuters reports Saudi Arabia is expected to launch a tender process for its first nuclear reactors as early as next month and will reach out to potential vendors from countries including South Korea, France and China, industry sources told the Reuters wire service.

The world’s top oil exporter wants to start construction next year on two plants with a total capacity of up to 2.8 GWe as it follows Gulf neighbor the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in seeking atomic energy. This future suggests that two KEPCO 1400 MW PWR type reactors, similar to the ones under construction in the UAE are on a short list.

Update — Reuters added the following to the initial report on 9/18/17 which is based on a plan for just two reactors, not 16 as reported in 2014.

“We are carrying out feasibility studies, technically and economically to build those nuclear reactors … in addition to detailed technical studies for the selection of the best locations,” said Hashim bin Abdullah Yamani, president of the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE).

“In addition we have a cooperation with the government of China in order to develop the high-temperature, gas-cooled reactors which also can be used in non-power applications in industries, petrochemicals and water desalination,” he said.

kcare 2 reactors

Hashim bin Abdullah Yamani talks with KCARE staff about plans to issue an RFI for two 1400 MW PWRs

The 2,9 GWe target is far smaller than a 16 GWe plan that was abandoned due to costs and complexity.  Announced in September 2014 the original plan called for 16 1000 MW reactors to be built at three sites to provide electricity and to power desalinization stations.

Just four months later in January 2015 the government kicked the entire project into the indefinite future as the price of oil plummeted raising questions of how the massive new nuclear build would be paid for.

“Competition will be fierce,” an industry source told Reuters, adding Saudi Arabia was expected to send a Request for Information (RFI) to suppliers in October, marking the official start of the tender process following feasibility studies.

A South Korea-based industry source with direct knowledge of the matter confirmed Riyadh was expected to issue the RFI for the first two plants in October to five potential bidders – South Korea, China, France, Russia and Japan.

Mike Flynn’s Untimely Efforts to Secure Nuclear Energy Deals in Saudi Arabia and Jordan

Two powerful committees in the U.S. House of Representatives have launched probes into a complex case involving efforts by now former U.S. National Security Advisor Mike Flynn to enlist Rosatom, the Russian nuclear energy export agency, in a deal to deliver nuclear reactors to Saudia Arabia.  Newsweek reporter Jeff Stein broke the story last June.

Democrats on the two House Committees sent a letter to Flynn and his business associates asking him to explain his actions.

What is unresolved in all the complexities of these reports is why Flynn got involved with the project in the first place in late 2016 nearly a year after the Saudi government cancelled its plans for full size nuclear reactors and began talks with South Korea about fall less costly small modular reactors in September 2015.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Flynn continued to discuss the project even while serving in the White House and directed National Security Council staffers to meet with the companies involved in the plan.

And in yet another development former national security adviser Michael Flynn and several other top aides to President Trump reportedly met secretly with Jordan’s King Abdullah II while Flynn was pushing for a for-profit deal to build more nuclear reactors in the Middle East.

Buzzfeed News reported that Flynn, along with Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon, met with Abdullah in Jordan in January, just days before they would officially join the White House.

In September 2014 Jordan inked a deal with Rosatom to build two 1000 MW VVER at a desert site.  That project never got off the ground due to the inability of Jordan to raise the money needed to fund its 50% share of the costs. At one time Jordan tried to broker its reported uranium deposits as collateral for investors, but prospecting by Areva and Rio Tinto said the deposits weren’t economically viable.

Flynn also involved with Turkey

The New York Times reports investigators working for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, in August asked the White House for documents related to the former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn, and have questioned witnesses about whether he was secretly paid by the Turkish government during the final months of the presidential campaign, according to people close to the investigation.

Flynn published an OP ED in the Hill on November 8, 2018, election day, praising the current government in Turkey. His company was paid $530,000 to run a campaign to discredit an opponent of the Turkish government who has been accused of orchestrating last year’s failed coup in the country. Flynn did not disclose he’d been paid the money until March 2017.

Investigators want to know if the Turkish government was behind those payments — and if the Flynn Intel Group made kickbacks to the businessman, Ekim Alptekin, for helping conceal the source of the money.

The House Committees charge that Flynn failed to disclose these meetings and activities and details as to whether and who was paid for his time as he was also preparing to take his government post in the White House and later when he was the lead national security official in the Trump administration.

Separately, Flynn has refused to meet with the Senate Intelligence Committee about his alleged interactions with Russian officials during the 2016 presidential campaign.

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