Bloomberg.com published an interesting article by Andy Critchlow on December 10, 2006 titled Saudi, Gulf States to Study Using Nuclear Technology (Update4). The article inspired me to write to the author. Here is what I told him:
Dear Mr. Critchlow:
I read with interest your article about the interest in nuclear power in Saudi Arabia and five other gulf states. You did a good job in outlining the issues and providing balance between a couple of points of view.
As the editor and primary author of Atomic Insights, I have tried to make the case that interest in nuclear power by major oil producers – at this time in their development – is a perfectly logical response. No one knows better than someone that is actually pumping oil out of the ground that the wealth from that activity is a fragile one that depends on many different influences.
Not only are there market concerns with widely varying prices, but there are also geological challenges that cause the wells to stop producing at some point in time.
Smart leaders of growing economies will take every opportunity to invest their temporary boon into enterprises with more long lasting potential. Since temporarily oil-rich countries know how important the energy industry is, nuclear power is a logical focus point. A side benefit is that nuclear electrical power will help free up additional oil and gas to sell into the international market; that activity is far more lucrative than burning the oil and gas at home to produce electricity.
The paternalistic attitude expressed by Mr. Harris that the “oil-rich Gulf states don’t need nuclear power” at a time when Russia, China, India, the UK, the US (especially in Texas), Finland, Norway, and South Africa all have expressed strong interest in developing new nuclear power plants is quite annoying. Each of those countries has a period in its history when it was viewed as oil or natural resources rich, but their prosperity continued by investing that wealth wisely.
Nuclear power makes sense – it reduces pollution, it stretches fossil reserves, and it provides real growth opportunities for developing nations.
Editor, Atomic Insights
Co-Host, The Atomic Show