UPI Energy Watch

By ANDREA R. MIHAILESCU, Energy Correspondent  |  May 11, 2005 at 2:33 PM
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WASHINGTON, May 11 (UPI) -- Discussions are under way about the $100 million U.S. Caspian Guard project, which is aimed at providing security for Caspian oil resources. Washington officials and security experts are also talking about strengthening the naval armed forces of the Caspian basin countries, especially those of Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. Richard Perle, former head of the U.S. Defense Policy Board, said Tuesday: "The fulfillment of this project is necessary, as it will defend the Caspian countries from the threat of Moscow. We are ready to support those states that have good relations with the U.S.A." U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan John Ordway recently stated that while the U.S. government is currently discussing supporting Kazakhstan's military forces, the country should itself strengthen the security of the Caspian border. In addition to providing signals and electronic intelligence to the two countries, the United States will also observe the equipment and deploy them on the coast of the Caspian. Washington will also assist Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan to build their staff resources.

Morocco's first civilian nuclear reactor will come online by the end of this year. Constructed by the U.S. General Atomics Company as part of 1980 U.S.-Moroccan nuclear cooperation technology agreement, the reactor will have a 2 megawatt capacity and will be constructed in the Maamora forest, some 12 miles north of the capital city of Rabat. Morocco is one of the 24 countries to have agreed to civilian nuclear cooperation with the United States. Khalid Mediouri, the director general of the National Center for Nuclear Science and Technology (CNESTEN), said Monday: "Morocco is betting on using nuclear technology. One of our main missions is to lay the groundwork for the advent of a political decision that would favor the use of nuclear energy. Morocco has been forced to take the nuclear route given the increasingly exorbitant cost of petroleum." France, Morocco's other traditional ally, is also supporting the kingdom's nuclear projects. During a conference in January, French Ambassador to Morocco Philippe Faure said: "The Maamora nuclear studies center would constitute a solid reservoir of expertise to guarantee the safety of a future powerful reactor." Some French companies are also participating in the project.

German Environment Minister Juergen Trittin Tuesday criticized Ukraine's plans to construct 11 new nuclear power plants. Trittin said: "If Ukraine really wants to liberalize its energy market, this alleged nuclear program is a great deal of hot air." Although every country makes its own decision on its energy policy, Trittin added: "Yet the question is how serious the announcement by the national nuclear authority really is. How does a country that has so far not been able to raise the funds for required modifications want to finance the construction of new nuclear power plants." Ukraine's Nuclear Authority recently announced that in addition to two planned nuclear reactors, the country intends to construct another 11 power plants, which will be completed by 2030.

The International Atomic Energy Agency organized a two-day nuclear accident response drill which was conducted in Romania on Monday and Tuesday. Some 50 countries participated in the exercise aimed at testing nuclear accident response measures in the event of a nuclear accident. Also participating in the exercise held in the Cernavoda-based nuclear power plant were the Romanian Nuclear Safety Administration, the Administration for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief and the Environment Agency, which also tested the operation of the country's response system to nuclear accidents abroad. Eight international organizations also participated.

Saudi Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali Al-Naimi announced Monday that the kingdom has discovered a new field of Arab-light oil in the eastern region. The Hulfa-1 well located some 200 miles south of Dhahran and 174 miles southeast of Riyadh was tested on April 20. The well produces an average 6,000 barrels per day of extremely Arab-light oil with a density of 36 degrees at the scale of The American Petroleum Institute. The well's gas production averages 37,000 cubic yards daily.

Closing oil prices, May 11, 3 p.m. London

Brent crude oil: $51.15

West Texas intermediate crude oil: $51.58


(Please send comments to AMihailescu@upi.com)

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