The Tuesday 20 February 2007 issue of the Wall St. Journal included a cover story about the rapid growth in internal energy demands in Iran. According to the article, the rising middle class, abundant supplies of low cost appliances from China and Turkey and a government policy that subsidizes the cost of oil, gas and electricity are all combining with Iran’s large population of young people to produce energy demand growth that has been in excess of 10% per year for the past several years.
When combined with Iran’s slowly declining oil and gas production, the trends indicate that Iran, which now exports about 3 million barrels of oil per day may become a net importer within 10-15 years. This shift will have a dramatic impact on the world’s energy markets, especially if similar trends continue in Mexico, Indonesia, and the UK.
Once again, the reality is a bit different from that portrayed by people who cannot understand why a major oil producing country like Iran could be telling the truth when they claim to be interested in producing civilian power from their nuclear research.
On a related note, South Africa has recently announced its interest in reviving its ability to produce its own enriched uranium. (See, for example: Uranium enrichment could prove lucrative for SA – Adam)
Again, this is a perfectly logical announcement. South Africa produces natural uranium as a by-product of its gold mining operations, it already knows how to enrich uranium, it has announced its intentions to build a large number of nuclear power stations, it has a need for good jobs, and it has developed a design for a new kind of reactor – the PBMR – that uses uranium enriched to a higher level than standard light water reactors.