ABU, DHABI – Japan and the United Arab Emirates on Thursday signed a nuclear cooperation agreement, giving Prime Minister Shinzo Abe a victory on his regional tour to sell Japanese nuclear technologies in the wake of the Fukushima meltdowns.
Abe, on a regional tour that began in Saudi Arabia, is emphasizing cooperation with Japan’s Middle East partners to ensure Japan will continue to receive stable deliveries of oil from the region.
The cooperation agreement involving the peaceful use of nuclear energy was signed in Dubai in the presence of Abe and UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashif al-Maktoum, WAM state news agency said.
The UAE also agreed to extend an oil concession agreement with Japan’s Abu Dhabi Oil Co., adding a new zone, WAM said.
Making his second visit to the Gulf as prime minister, Abe arrived late Wednesday in the UAE, Japan’s eighth-largest economic partner, to take part in the Japan-UAE Business Forum, where he announced plans to sign the nuclear agreement.
“Japan can contribute to UAE energy supplies by means of nuclear energy conservation and renewable energy,” he said, according to a translation of Abe, who spoke in Japanese.
The UAE announced in mid-July that it would begin building two of four nuclear power plants with a capacity of 1,400 megawatts each, in partnership with a South Korean consortium, as part of its plans to produce electricity from 2017.
Despite being a major oil exporter, the UAE has opted to develop atomic power, viewing it as a proven, environmentally promising and commercially competitive source of electricity.
With the four plants scheduled to be operational by 2020, the UAE hopes that nuclear energy will provide up to a quarter of its electricity needs, which are forecast to soar to 40 gigawatts from 15.5.
Japanese foreign ministry spokesman Yutaka Yokoi told reporters Tokyo will “provide a small part of the technology for the facility,” which is being built by a South Korean group.
In a separate development, a Japanese-French consortium has won a $22 billion contract to build a nuclear power plant on Turkey’s Black Sea coast, a senior energy ministry official said Thursday.
For his part, UAE Energy Minister Suhail al-Mazrouei called for stable world oil prices at the forum.
“We seek as an energy-producing country stability in world prices, to enable exporting and consuming countries to steadily develop and build their economies,” he said.