Sunday, December 16, 2007

Nuclear Energy, the EU and Russia: What are Perspectives? Possible Scenario

Nuclear Energy, the EU and Russia: What are Perspectives? Possible Scenario
Rovshan Ibrahimov

Sunday , 09 December 2007

Rovshan Ibrahimov

This commentary is from USAK's Energy Review Newsletter
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Growing EU dependence on imported oil and gas, forcing this organization to seek ways to change the situation, which could turn into a serious problem and assume the risk to the safety of the entire community. The weakness of coordinating of common energy policy of community, prevalence of national interests of the members over the EU led to a situation where more than 40% used in the EU states, natural gas has imported from Russia, and this number continues to grow. No better situation with the oil, where Russian oil has significant portion in the European market.

In this situation, EU countries are trying to find alternative ways to address the problem of growing dependence on imported energy. One of the exits in this situation is to increase the use of nuclear energy. The fact that after the accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant in 1986, in connection with the dire consequences of the spread of radiation to the construction and operation of power data for the last 20 years has slightly declined. In particular place dismantling stations in Germany, as well as in Eastern Europe, where the station had been built on Soviet technology, and therefore considered the most dangerous to the environment. Despite this, in 12 countries, the EU still uses energy, elaborated on Nuclear Station.

In addition to that increased energy consumption in the EU has forcing to reconsider its position in relation to use, less risky at first glance, source of energy. The transition to the use of atomic energy driven by the fact that unlike the unsuccessful attempt to create a common energy policy related to the oil and gas, production, use and distribution of atomic energy is the prerogative of EURATOM, and therefore there is coordinated policies in this area . Due to revive the use of atomic energy, it is expected that by 2025, in the EU countries, nuclear power stations cover 60% of electricity demand.

The desire of Russia to dominate on the European energy market in this case is limited by EURATOM; the EU states used just 20% Russian original nuclear fuel. In this case, the use of nuclear energy as possible way to decrease of dependence on Russian energy is very attractive to the EU.

However, despite the obvious benefits possible increase production and use of atomic energy in the EU, there are also some weakness sides of this initiative. In particular EU countries do not have sufficient reserves of uranium, and in this case the EU states have to export it.

Russia, which wants to dominate in the energy market of the EU, now has extensive relations with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, two countries which have sufficient deposits of uranium, the raw material which is needed for energy production on Atomic Station. Both countries need to Russian technology and expertise in the production of uranium and even European countries will offer its assistance to them, these countries are unlikely to agree to move to Europe in this matter. Given that Kazakhstan is looking for alternative for Russia ways to the world markets for exports of its oil and gas reserves, this country will not risk its relationship with its great neighbor in this matter. It should be mentioning that Kazakhstan is the second uranium producer in the world. The share of the country accounted for 10.5% of world uranium output. An additional 5.5% of the world's production is in Uzbekistan. Russia itself produces up to 8%, which together with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan is 24% of total world production.

Of course, the EU will be able to acquire the necessary raw materials from other producers in the world, in particular from the leader in this area Australia, producing up to 22.8% uranium in the world and owns 40% of the world's deposits. This year, however, Russia and Australia entered into a contract on the supply of uranium to Russia. This treaty Russia has been able adjustment of uranium produced in Australia. And if today the country, traditional consumers of uranium, did not face a shortage of raw materials, as more uses of atomic energy, such a problem could arise.

With regard to other producers in the world, the United States, China and Ukraine are themselves consumers of uranium produced. In this case, only two remain major exporter: Namibia share in the production of which is 7.5%, and Niger with 7.4%.
As can be seen, in the long term production capacity of nuclear power in the EU, could again lead to a situation where Russia an opportunity to enhance its influence and power in this area.

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