The Middle East Nuclear Power Market for Dummies

The Middle East Nuclear Power Market for Dummies

In this article, we make it simple:  what is at stake in the region, what is needed and what should your business expect:

What are the needs in the region?

The region is divided between countries that import fossil fuel and need to become energy independent, such as Jordan, Turkey and Egypt and countries that export oil and gas and need nuclear to reduce their own consumption of fossil fuel, such as Iran, UAE, Sudan and Saudi Arabia.

Bahrain is not considering this option, Qatar is still unspecified.


What are the potential nuclear projects?

  • Saudi Arabia: 16 Units
  • Iran: 14 units
  • Turkey: 12-16 units
  • UAE: 4 units ( and more investment already planned)
  • Egypt: 4 units
  • Sudan: 4 units
  • Jordan: 2 units


What are the uranium resources in the region?

Egypt, Iran, Jordan, and Turkey have a combined amount of 60,000 tons of recoverable uranium. Saudi Arabia signed an agreement with CNNC to explore nine potential areas in the Kingdom. Each government hopes to reach a self-sufficient nuclear program.


Are there any research reactors in the region?

  • Egypt: ETRR-2
  • Iran : TRR, ENTC
  • Israël: IRR
  • Jordan: JSA, JRTR
  • Saudi Arabia : LPRR ( and protocol signed in 2017 with China for the HTGR).
  • Syria : SRR
  • Turkey: ITU TRIGA


What are the ongoing programs in the region?

Turkey (Akkuyu, Sinop, Igneada*), Iran (Bushehr, Darkhowin, Makran), Egypt (El Dabaa)** and UAE (Barakah) have an ongoing nuclear program with the support of the major players, Rosatom, Mitsubishi, Framatome, CNNC, Kepco, SPIC and Westinghouse. The other major players, such as SNC Lavalin (AECL), Toshiba, Hitachi, GE are not in the race.


Is there a plan to transfer the technology in the region?

The nuclear technology is linked to other strategic exports for all players, including Korea***. The technology transfer is compulsory in several countries, such as Turkey, Iran,  Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and moderately required in Jordan, UAE and Sudan. The export of technology will foster the general economy of the region, from being importer of mechanical and electrical equipment to exporter to Africa and Central Asia. The technology  to be localized is mostly non-safety equipment and related to civil works, the Conventional Island (CI) and the balance of plant (BOP).


What are the needs in the future Saudi energy market?

The electricity demand in the country has risen by as much as 9 % a year since 2000, compared with less than 1 % in western countries. This needs of electricity is driven by the increase of desalinization. Saudi Arabia has put in place a plan to develop 9.5 gigawatts of solar and other renewables by 2023, and to build 16 nuclear reactors by 2030 (at a cost estimated between 80 to 100 Billion USD). The first two units will be signed by December 2018.


What are the regional threats?

The  threat in the region is not restricted to the Sunni (Saudi) and the Shiites (Iran).

The Saudis ongoing and expensive war in Yemen, the intervention of Turkey in the Syrian conflict , the ongoing conflict in Libya, the border disputes between Sudan and South Sudan, the authoritarian regimes in Egypt and Turkey, the relation between Qatar and Bahrain  and the ISIS threat in all of the region have an intense impact on the confidence of the foreign investors and engineering companies.


What can we conclude?

For a manufacturer or an engineering company, we suggest to focus on the following points:

  1. The Middle East is a major market for export of nuclear related technology, equipment and expertise
  2. The expertise in mechanical, electrical will be transferred for the non-safety part of the plant and finding a local partner will give a competitive advantage.
  3. Any technology in uranium extraction and transport will be required.
  4. The radiation protection market will increase fast.
  5. Due to conflicts and uncertainties in the region, the local supply chain will look for short term opportunities, rather than investment in the long run.
  6. The use of local representation in specific countries is important. A representative in the UAE cannot grasp the cultural differences between Iran-Saudi Arabia and Turkey.


*Igneada was selected as the third site in 2015, however it may not be used by the Chinese investor, SPIC.

*Note that most of these countries are either in peace (Jordan, Turkey), either trying to normalize their relation with Israel. The relation with Israel determines the level of technology transfer for fuel enrichment from the US and somewhat France. However there is absolutely no impact on Russia and China export.

** The region is the largest importer of weapons in the world (a yearly market between 60-70 Billions USD). Traditionally the US is the largest exporter of arms in the region (49% of US arms exports), Russia, China and France increase their market share (we do not include Germany in this race, while the country is one the largest exporter of arms in the region).

About Author

Arnaud Lefevre

Arnaud Lefevre is the Chief Executive Officer of Dynatom International. Arnaud is in charge of the international development of the business portfolio.