Thursday, June 07, 2012

Amir Adnani and the Future of Uranium – And Nuclear Energy

AdnaniOakshire Financial talks to Amir Adnani, chief executive of Uranium Energy Corp. Most of the chat, as the name of the site implies, is about the price of uranium. I’ll let you discover (most of) that part for yourself – whenever I read something like this, I imagine a movie tycoon yelling into the telephone, “Buy Chilean copper!! Sell Nigerian manganese!! What do you mean I’ve lost everything?!!!”

But Adnani also keeps an eye on nuclear energy – that’s his marketplace, after all – and he has some interesting insights.

The growth in the nuclear industry is going to come from exactly where it was going to come from pre-Fukushima. The countries and the economies that are expanding most rapidly are the ones that really need more power. The growth isn’t going to come from the West. In fact, only 3% of the reactors that are under construction right now—there are about 65 reactors under construction—are in G7 countries. The top four markets are China, Russia, India and South Korea. Saudi Arabia plans to build 16 nuclear reactors, which is a $400 billion program. Chinese officials have reiterated the country’s plans to grow its nuclear capacity to about 70 gigawatts (GW) by 2020. India plans to get to about 60–63 GW of installed nuclear capacity by 2030 and it further aims to supply 25% of electricity from nuclear power by 2050.

I guess that can sound discouraging to western ears, but the water isn’t all cold.

Having said that, there is incremental growth in the developed world, too. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved four licenses earlier this year for operating nuclear reactors to come on-line in Georgia and South Carolina. They are the first licenses of this type to be issued in the U.S. in almost 30 years. Even in the United Kingdom there have been announcements to build seven or eight new nuclear reactors. It is very positive to see those developments post-Fukushima.

It certainly is. I admit that there’s nothing really new here – the uranium stuff is actually more enlightening if you’re interested in commodities – but I like how Adnani puts a lot of data together to make his points. For example:

There aren’t too many metals that have a gap of about 40 million pounds (Mlb)/year (demand weighs in at 180 Mlb/year versus 140 Mlb of annual mine production). That gap is only going to widen next year due to the expiration of the Megatons to Megawatts program, a secondary source of supply, in which uranium is derived from dismantled Russian nuclear warheads. That’s about 15% of the global uranium market. Of course, demand is going to grow because 65 reactors are going to be coming on-line in the near future and another 100–150 reactors are at various stages of planning and permitting. The supply-demand fundamentals in uranium are very compelling.

I’ll take his word for it. He’s a uranium guy, so of course he’s bullish on it – but he’s also very clear-eyed at the same time. Really worth a full read.

Amir Adnani.

1 comment:

trag said...

How is Saudi Arabia going to spend $400 billion on 16 nuclear reactors? That's $25 billion per reactor. Something is missing from that throw-away factoid.