Saudi, Russia in talks over nuclear deal
Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia will hold talks with Russia over a potential draft nuclear agreement, Saudi state media said on Monday.
The Gulf Arab state has said it is looking at various energy sources to satisfy rising domestic demand and has set up a nuclear research centre, the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy.
About a tenth of the country's production in barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) goes to power generation.
The Saudi government has mandated the head of the city to hold discussions with Russia to sign a draft cooperation agreement on peaceful development of nuclear energy between the two major oil exporters, state news agency SPA said after a weekly cabinet meeting.
It gave no details of the draft or the timeframe.Demand for electricity in the desert country is rising at an annual rate of 8 percent and is expected to triple to 121,000 megawatts (MW) by 2032.
The Gulf Arab state plans to invest $80 billion to boost capacity to least 70,000 MW by 2020 from an installed capacity of 50,000 MW now.
The United Arab Emirates, the first Gulf Arab country to take the nuclear route, has plans to build its first nuclear reactor by 2017. It will also host the International Renewable Energy Agency's newly created headquarters.
The Gulf Cooperation Council -- an alliance of six Arab states including Saudi Arabia -- said in 2007 it was studying a joint nuclear energy program and had been in touch with the U.N. atomic energy watchdog about cooperating over such a scheme.
In April, neighboring Kuwait agreed with France to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. (Rueters).