New power sources needed for growth

Nuclear fuel could power petrochemicals sector within a decade say GPCA speakers

Petrochemical related power demands are pushing the nuclear option
Petrochemical related power demands are pushing the nuclear option

Nuclear fuel could power petrochemicals sector within a decade say GPCA speakers

A population boom which has fuelled growing domestic power consumption across the Gulf is threatening energy-hungry petrochemical developments, according to GPCA speakers.

Petrochemical facilities consume huge volumes of electricity, and regional polymer production capacity is expected to double to 33 million tonnes by 2011.

Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) has already suffered power outages in August 2008 which affected production at some of its polyethylene and polypropylene plants in Jubail.

Power outages hit the industrial eastern province in the kingdom and were attributed to an interruption in the power supply leading, leading to a reduced rate of production.

Mohamed al-Mady, vice-chairman and CEO of Saudi Basic Industries Corp said at the recent GPCA that the company has become a partial investor in a 2000 MW power plant in Jubail, and another in Yanbu to prevent such future outages.
“We cannot rely on public infrastructure for our power demands, which are considerable. These investments have been made to safeguard future production and augment our position,” he added.

“Big scale plants, of the type we are seeing develop in the Middle East require an investment in power infrastructure. I think that the Nuclear deal signed earlier this year in the United Arab Emirates could be a serious contributor to meeting the country’s petrochemical power needs,” said Hamad Al-Terkait, President and CEO of Equate Petrochemical Company.

Last March the UAE approved a memo outlining the potential development of nuclear energy. This was backed up by the establishment of a Nuclear Energy Implementation Organisation (NEPIO) in line with International Atomic Energy Agnecy (IAEA) recommendations. The organisation launched with $100 million capital, will evaluate and potentially implement a peaceful nuclear energy programme within the UAE”, the statement said.

French companies Total, Suez and Areva have all expressed interest in joining forces to develop plans for two new-generation nuclear reactors which could be up and running by 2016.

According to a memo submitted by Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the move represents an “environmentally promising and commercially competitive option which could make a significant contribution to the UAE’s economy and future energy security”.

Egypt, which has also set ambitious targets for the growth of its petrochemical sector, selected Bechtel Power Corp as contractor to design and consult on the country’s first nuclear power plant in December. Due in part to power-hungry downstream projects, Egyptian power requires are expected to surge by 84.7% by 2018.

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