Energy

With uranium producers and reactor suppliers also potentially benefiting in the process Secreatry Chu stated “Establishing this reserve will put confidence in the US as a reliable supplier of nuclear fuel and should encourage other governments to see American nuclear vendors as preferable partners.”

By Dave Brown – Exclusive to Uranium Investing News

The nuclear industry received a boost on Monday as Department of Energy Secretary Stephen Chu visited Austria for the General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). With an audience of representatives and delegates from over 150 countries Secretary Chu confirmed policy on nuclear safety and leadership in the wake of the Fukushima disaster while maintaining the critical function that nuclear power provides as the world balances a demand for carbon free energy sources, climate change and economic challenges.

In his remarks, Secretary Chu explained leadership initiatives in safety, “The United States supports expanded and reliable access to fuel supplies, working through the commercial marketplace and public-private partnerships, for peaceful nuclear programs. The IAEA Low Enriched Uranium Fuel Bank, the UK mechanism for assured supply, and the Russian fuel reserve at Angarsk provide important fuel supply assurances.”

Assured fuel supply

Last month the United States announced the availability of a reserve stockpile of low-enriched uranium for countries pursuing peaceful civilian nuclear programs. The American Assured Fuel Supply (AFS), is provided by down-blending approximately 17.4 tonnes of surplus highly enriched uranium from the stockpile of weapons from the United States.

The IAEA is creating a framework to establish an International Fuel Bank to support a $50 million commitment from the United States-based Nuclear Threat Initiative organization and an additional $107 million from both the United States governments and others.

With uranium producers and reactor suppliers also potentially benefiting in the process Secreatry Chu stated “Establishing this reserve will put confidence in the US as a reliable supplier of nuclear fuel and should encourage other governments to see American nuclear vendors as preferable partners.”

International nuclear industry news developments

With China maintaining an understandably cautious approach to the nuclear industry, reports state that safety assessments conducted after the Fukushima accident have had no material effects on any current projects under construction. However, the implications of new standards remain to be seen and China’s attitude regarding public safety has provided for a more risk-averse trend following some incidents of civil unrest and accidents in the last year. Speaking at the WNA Symposium, Yun Zhou, a special consultant of Ux Consulting and research fellow at Harvard University, noted that China has been the only country to suspend new reactor approvals. Implying a temporary pause, the country has been auditing safety requirements of its planned and approved second generation reactor projects. Safety standards are being revised and created concurrently with an initial draft to document an Atomic Energy Law, which could be released by the end of this year. Investors will note that communities will have more involvement in location for decisions of new nuclear developments and additional regulatory impediments could result in a decline of profitability.

Nuclear industry reorganization

Prominent German industrial giant Siemens (NYSE:SI) has announced that it will withdraw its remaining nuclear power offerings and exit the industry. In an interview with Der Spiegel, Chief Executive Officer for the company, Peter Löscher, said the company was somewhat influenced by the Fukushima accident and its impact on the German political situation; however, he indicates that the company had already been restructuring and reducing its specialist nuclear businesses for several years.

The pronouncement follows an earlier decision by an arbitration tribunal in May ordering the company to pay $927 million to France’s Areva Group (EPA:CEI) after it failed to meet contractual obligations in a nuclear joint venture with Areva that it terminated.

Siemens remains one of the world’s major firms in the energy sector and had previously demonstrated a prominence in the growing nuclear field of the 1970s and 1980s. Siemens activity accounted for the entire German nuclear fleet, while it had also exported reactors to Argentina, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Spain. Since the news of the departure the share price for Siemens has appreciated 1.8 percent to the range of $94.81.

 

Securities Disclosure: I, Dave Brown, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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