Fears about global energy security as Russia owns about 50% of global uranium enrichment capacity

Russia controls almost 50% of the world’s uranium enrichment capacity, which has raised concerns about energy security in the West.

The president of the largest Western supplier of enriched uranium, which is used to fuel US nuclear power plants, said the company has adequate capacity to replace Russian supply if Washington bans imports from Russia.

US bill proposes a ban on uranium imports from Russia

Boris Shukht, CEO of Urenco (a company that enriches uranium for use as fuel in nuclear power plants), stated that the US bill, which proposes a ban on uranium imports from Russia, will contribute to Western countries’ multibillion-dollar efforts to strengthen their nuclear energy supply chains, giving market participants long-term certainty. The Financial Times reports about it.

Urenco is also in talks with the governments of the United Kingdom and the United States about future investments in new plants to create the more powerful Haleu fuel, which is used in modern reactors and is presently only available from Russia’s state nuclear company Rosatom, he said.

The UK’s efforts to oust Putin from the global energy market

The UK government has allocated £9.5 million to Urenco for developing the Haleu field in Capenhurst, Cheshire, as part of a £300 million campaign to “oust Vladimir Putin from the global energy market.”

“The market wants greater independence and, of course, clear political leadership. That is why the proposed legislation in the United States will be beneficial. In the short term, there are no restrictions for the substitution of Russian materials in the Western world. It’s a simple message,” Schucht explained in an interview with the FT.

Russia owns about 50% of the global uranium enrichment capacity

Russia owns about half of the world’s uranium enrichment capacity, raising fears about energy security in the West following Moscow’s full-fledged invasion of Ukraine. Rosatom provides more than one-fifth of the enriched uranium fuel needed to power nuclear reactors in the United States and Europe. 

However, in December, the United States, Great Britain, Japan, France, and Canada announced a $4.2 billion public commitment to build national uranium enrichment and conversion service providers.

Urenco has agreed to expand three enrichment facilities in the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. Schucht stated that demand has increased as Western power plant owners try to acquire alternate sources of supplies from Russia.

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