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March 25, 2008

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Dubaiwalla

what Gulf watchers really want to know is whether Dubai's peaceful nuclear energy program will be taller, shinier and more expensive than Qatar's
The answer to that is highly likely to depend on which one's propaganda you trust more.

nur al-cubicle

There is a rush on the part of both Israel and the US to boost India's nuclear capabilities and now the Gulf nuclear rush...hmmm. At the least, it seems to be some kind of thumb in the eye to Iran.

M. Mathers

"At the least, it seems to be some kind of thumb in the eye to Iran."

"Gee. Escalation seemed like a good idea at the time..."

Non-Arab Arab

Ok, I'm not going to dismiss the obvious strategic issues with regards to Iran, Israel, India, etc, etc. But, I do want to add something here and state that there *is* definitely energy logic here. Power generation and desalination natural gas needs are straining in the UAE and the Gulf region generally. The Saudis were smart to decide early on not to export natural gas, but even they are facing a question of sufficient natural gas in years ahead to meet all their planned petchem and other project needs. The UAE is already straining and being forced to utilize liquids (diesel, fuel oil, etc. - not sure if they do direct crude burn like Saudis) and even imported South African coal to generate enough power and desalinated water - even despite the flow of natural gas from Qatar via the Dolphin project. And most important from an oil perspective, they have now been forced on occasion to divert natural gas from oilfield re-injection (used to maintain reservoir pressure and crucial for maintaining long-term production) in order to meet short-term power gen needs. Qatar has deliberately held off approving further LNG and GTL schemes while they review the most appropriate use of gas going forward.

What I'm saying is, given *huge* growth in power demand and LNG exports, there is not enough natural gas in the region going forward and it is even starting to impact the long-term health of oil reservoirs in the UAE. Given these realities, finding an alternative source for power generation is crucial, and nuclear could potentially be a sensible piece of the pie. This article gives a good glimpse of some of the immediate challenges the UAE is facing:

http://www.business24-7.ae/cs/article_show_mainh1_story.aspx?HeadlineID=3943

Also keep in mind that this is affecting oil prices today. OECD oil demand growth has all but stalled in the face of the US recession, but it is Non-OECD demand growth that is helping to keep strains on the system and prop prices up. China is the obvious known story, and diesel is the key product (gasoline is weak with the US now facing a glut of supply due to ethanol and increased European exports in the face of year-on-year demand declines for the first time in years). Diesel is being propped up not just by China though, but by a broad array of global demand spots including China, Indonesia, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, West Africa, North Africa, and - you guessed it - the Gulf. The Gulf never used to import distillate (the broader category of oil products including diesel), but in recent months the market was shocked to see barrels being pulled into the region. That is one important piece (admittedly among many) keeping oil at $100.

The UAE and the Gulf are facing huge increases in power needs. Natural gas is struggling to meet the need. Coal and oil are expensive and dirty alternative sources. Nuclear cannot be dismissed as pointless from an energy perspective even for the oil-rich Gulf.

Nur al-Cubicle

This is interesting...now everyone's in on the act. Egypt's Mubarek just flew to Novo-Ogarev to sign a nuclear deal with Putin.

JJackson

Marc

Sorry this is not relevent to this thread but, I hope you will consider a little analysis on the current Maliki/Sadr escalation.

An Outhouse

hmmmm... hot, dry, sunny climate + need electricity = ??

Solar? um, no. Wind? um, no.

hmmmm... hot, dry, sunny climate + need a bomb = ??

Yes, nuclear!!!!

George Arndt

If the Middle East need more energy (like they don't have enough energy from oil) Why don't they just go solar. They have no shortage of Sunlight. They could become the well..Middle East of Solar!

Non-Arab Arab

Why not solar and wind? Because they are very expensive and operationally inflexible. The exact same reasons they haven't taken off in say Arizona. I repeat, oil is an expensive and dirty source of btu's. Now the economics and merits of nuclear can be debated, but you're going to need a pretty hefty model to do it with, one which won't fit in a blog comments section and which at the minimum re-inforces there is room for debate on the merits.

Which again, in no way negates the perfectly valid strategic issues others raise here. But flippant comments about solar or wind that ignores their problems simply distracts from the fact that there is room at the debate table for the merits and disadvantages of nuclear just as in the US, Europe, Asia, and other regions of the world.

Non-Arab Arab

And I would re-focus the question as I tried to earlier: don't just say "they've got tons of energy from oil". That's not the question, of course they have lots of oil.

The questions are:

(1) From their perspective they have huge needs for electric power, desalinated water, oil reservoir pressure management, and feedstock for heavy industries. Where is the fuel for those things going to come from? Oil is dirty and expensive compared to alternative fuels, natural gas supplies are increasingly tight in the region, and renewables are expensive and operationally inflexible.

(2) From our perspective as net energy importers, if they choose to utilize more oil, there is that much less available for export to us and the rest of the world. Can we tolerate this in a world that currently has only about 2-3% spare production capacity available and where small marginal changes in supply availability can drive massive increases in price (even beyond what we've seen to date), tip developed economies into deeper recession or worse, and impoverish even wider swathes of the developing world?

Now, perhaps there are ways around this, but considering that nuclear is a fuel/technology that might be one of those ways, it is again I argue an energy source whose merits deserve to be debated. Admittedly in the wider framework of how it effects weapons proliferation and arms' races as well.

Andy

As long as none of these deals contain a fuel-cycle component (as appears to be the case so far), then there is nothing to fear.

CKR

My speculations here.

nygdan

I'd think that some of the logic behind the west supporting these moves is that they'll have more control over them. Iran and Pakistan independently (well, not really) set up their nuclear infrastructure. The original idea behind org's like the IAEA was that, if the west /gives/ the rest of the world nuke tech, then it can inspect it, regulate it, and ensure its used for peaceful purpose. Didn't really work out that way, but I bet there is some similar reasoning here. Better to work with the qataris than shun them and have them build it all anyway.

Al-Gumaee

My comments is that Ii is good news to hear that the Arab people in the UAE announced that it would begin exploring the prospects for a civilian nuclear program, after signing a deal with French President Sarkozy on nuclear cooperation. Yemeni people, Qatar has been talking, Egypt and all Arab nation collectively has been talking of late of the need for a joint with Yemen and Egypt nuclear energy agenda. This all make great sense more if we in the region help-each other as brothers and sisters to accomplish such project as an Arab nuclear program. So that can improve the lives of the Arab people and their needs. These large Arab region energy-poor countries disparately need nuclear energy to meet the power needs of their vast populations and energy-dependent manufacturing economies. It is laughable to see our people still live in the in the dark in this 21st.
Small Arab states with big Arab states make their joint projects easer to be reached for their people. If we look correctly to what is relatable in a long run or the short run, the Arab’ future is together. Whether we see it or not, it is a reality as the general public sees it. The Arab people are proud of their one history and one nation, as thy are proud of their individual, or nation’s accomplishment. Arab people are proud of Dubai advances, that they want every other state to be like them.
Thanks to every one who is lookig rightfully to human needs any where in his own home and the world.

Shafika Al-Gumaee

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