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Saudi Arabia signs nuclear-energy deal with Argentina

Saudi Arabia has sealed a nuclear-energy deal with Argentina in an effort to meet urgent needs of the oil-rich kingdom, the Saudi government said.

Water desalination--turning seawater into drinking water – and electricity generation projects have been introduced by Argentina’s Atomic Energy Commission and technology firm INVAP, Reuters reported. INVAP has previously built research reactors in Algeria and Egypt.

“With Saudi Arabia’s local power demand expected to nearly triple in the next 20 years, it’s critical that the kingdom use atomic and renewable energy technologies to meet this growing demand in a safe, sustainable and clean manner,” Hashim bin Abdullah Yamani, president of the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy, told Reuters.

Saudi Arabia has signed similar agreements with several other countries with experience in nuclear energy.

The kingdom is struggling to keep up with escalating power demand amid rapid population growth and aims to build nuclear reactors to cut gas and oil burning in the power-generation sector.

Saudi Arabia has a population of 29 million, which is estimated to be increasing by about 2.4 percent annually.
Earlier this month, the kingdom announced plans to build 16 nuclear power reactors by 2030, which could potentially cost more than $100 billion.

The country hopes to boost its domestic energy capacity to cover 20 percent of its electricity needs using nuclear energy.

(Eman El-Shenawi, a writer at Al Arabiya English, can be reached at: eman.elshenawi@mbc.net.)