COP28: ENEC signs commercial uranium contract with Kazatomprom

5 December 2023

The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) has signed its first commercial uranium fuel supply contract with Kazakhstan’s National Atomic Company (NAC) Kazatomprom JSC to supply the UAE’s Barakah NPP. ENEC said the contract opens pathways for future collaboration building on its long-established diversified procurement strategy to ensure a secure and sustainable supply of nuclear fuel. The signing took place during the official visit of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, to the UAE, during which the delegation of Kazatomprom participated in the United Nations Conference on Climate Change, COP28.

Within the Year of Sustainability in the UAE, ENEC’s global partnerships “will support the continued rapid decarbonisation of the country’s heavy and energy intensive industries, creating further sources of clean energy while using the latest technologies and helping to deliver Net Zero by 2050”. ENEC “is increasingly forming international partnerships to advance the role of nuclear energy globally to support greater energy security and sustainable development”.

This is seen as a strategically important agreement given that Kazakhstan is the world’s largest producer of uranium, holding approximately 12% of the world’s recoverable uranium resources and produces 40% of the world’s uranium supplies.

“ENEC has a comprehensive strategy for fuel management at Barakah, signing contracts back in 2012 with a number of global suppliers to ensure a sustainable and secure fuel supply,” said ENEC Managing Director & CEO Mohamed Al Hammadi. “With a significant positive shift in many nations to include civil nuclear energy as part of their energy mix, security of supply for fuel is paramount. Adding Kazamtomprom only boosts our roster of fuel partners further, ensuring a sustainable fuel supply for the generation of clean, 24/7 electricity, and our plans for generation of clean heat, steam and clean molecules like hydrogen, to decarbonise energy intensive and heavy industry in the UAE and oversees.”

Kazatomprom CEO Meirzhan Yussupov said the first ever commercial contract between Kazatomprom and ENEC will mark the beginning of valuable and promising cooperation. “We hope our partnership will only strengthen in the future resulting in new contracts for the reliable supplies of natural uranium for the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant.”

Construction of the UAE’s Barakah NPP began in 2011. Korea Electric Power Company (Kepco) led the consortium that is building the plant comprising four APR1400 reactors. Unit 1 was connected to the grid in 2020, followed by unit 2 in 2021. Unit 1 began commercial operation in April 2021 and unit 2 in March 2022. Unit 3 was connected to the grid in October 2022 and unit 4 completed hot functional testing in July 2023 in preparation for commercial operation. Once all four units are operating, they will contribute up to 25% of the UAE's National Determined Contributions to Net Zero and be the largest source of dispatchable clean electricity.

ENEC said it is now focused beyond the Barakah plant to capitalise on the expertise it has gained to look at opportunities for further large-scale plant development, advanced reactors, R&D and clean molecules, heat and steam generation, both in the UAE and through investments and partnerships overseas.

Image courtesy of Kazatomprom

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