Saudi Arabia is currently undertaking a study to issue a license for its nuclear power plant site, the Ministry of Energy said in an Arabic language press statement, quoting energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman.

The site will be finalised after completion of the technical specifications documents, which were drafted through an international competition, the minister said, while delivering a speech at an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) conference in Vienna on Monday.

In March 2022, Saudi Arabia announced that it is establishing a holding company to develop nuclear power projects in the Kingdom.

In December 2021, French companies EDF and Bouygues Travaux Publics entered into a framework agreement for cooperation on future European Pressurised Reactors (EPR)-technology-based nuclear power plant projects in Saudi Arabia. The agreement followed the conclusion of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Bouygues Travaux Publics and Saudi construction company NESMA & Partners Contracting to jointly participate in the execution of civil works of a potential project in the Kingdom.

In his speech, the minister had noted that the Kingdom is working in cooperation and coordination with IAEA to develop a national programme to enable nuclear energy to contribute to the energy mix.

Past media and IAEA reports have emphasised that Saudi Arabia is following the Agency’s Milestones Approach in developing its national infrastructure for nuclear power. IAEA’s website describes the Milestones Approach as comprising of three phases with the completion of each phase marked by a specific ‘milestone.’

In Phase 1, the country will analyse the implications of introducing nuclear power.

Milestone 1: the country is ready to make a knowledgeable commitment to a nuclear power programme (or to decide not to proceed).

In Phase 2, the preparatory work for the contracting and construction of a nuclear power plant is undertaken, which includes the development of necessary nuclear infrastructure and establishment of key organisations and legal and regulatory frameworks.

Milestone 2: The country is ready to invite bids or negotiate a contract for their first nuclear power plant

Phase 3: Activities to contract, licence and construct the first nuclear power plant are undertaken.

Milestone 3: The country is ready to commission and operate the first nuclear power plant

Saudi Arabia has completed the first two phases and is moving into Phase 3.

SDC Code: 2896760158

(Writing by SA Kader & P Deol; Editing by Anoop Menon)