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Saudi Arabia to build 16 nuclear reactors

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia, June 1 (UPI) -- Saudi Arabia plans to build 16 nuclear reactors over a 20-year period at a cost of more than $100 billion, a top Saudi nuclear official said.

Abdul Ghani bin Melaibari, coordinator of the scientific collaboration at King Abdullah City of Atomic and Renewable Energy, said international companies would be able to bid on the project, Arab News.com said.

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"We will consider expertise that we can benefit from," the news Web site quoted him as saying Tuesday at the Gulf Environment Forum in Jeddah. "After 10 years we will have the first two reactors. After that, every year we will establish two, until we have 16 of them by 2030."

Each nuclear reactor has an estimated cost of $7 billion, he said, and once the project is complete it will provide 20 percent of the kingdom's electricity.

In February, the Abu Dhabi daily The National reported Saudi Arabia had signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with France to advance the kingdom's atomic energy program.

Under the agreement, Saudi experts would study French technology options, their financial requirements and implications for developing "qualified national human resources," a statement issued by Saudi and French officials at the signing said.

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