Macron under Putin’s rule as Russia could cripple the French nuclear industry | Science | News
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Recent reports of atrocities committed by Russian forces in Bucha have finally prompted the EU to consider a ban on Russian fossil fuels. Oil and gas exports are a large part of Russia’s economy and the EU relies heavily on gas supplies from Moscow, accounting for 40% of its imports. The EU imported a staggering €48.5bn (£38bn) of crude oil in 2021 and €22.5bn (£19bn) of petroleum oils other than the gross.
But even as European leaders meet to discuss an immediate ban on Russian coal, experts have warned that apart from fossil fuels, Russia could also manipulate EU energy by controlling global supply in uranium.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Dr Paul Dorfman, research associate at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex and chairman of the Nuclear Consulting Group, said: “In terms of energy security, uranium under Russian control – essentially reactors run on uranium, includes both Russia and companies in Kazakhstan, which are under Russian control.
“There is no doubt that it is. [control Kazhakstan].
“Uranium under Russian control currently powers 42% of all nuclear reactors in the world.”
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France is the world’s second largest producer of nuclear energy
Dr. Dorfman noted that this was one of the reasons Western powers had not imposed sanctions on uranium imports from Russia and Kazakhstan.
He added: “Uranium under Russian control provides 20% of all EU feedstock for their nuclear reactors, and none of that has been banned yet.”
Of all the EU countries that depend on Russia for uranium, the French energy system is particularly vulnerable.
Paris is the second largest producer of nuclear energy in the world, with nuclear energy generating 70% of the country’s electricity.
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According to Shaun Murison, senior market analyst at GIFrance no longer produces uranium and depends entirely on imports.
Mr Murison estimates that around 20-25% of French uranium imports come from Kazakhstan, although official figures have been difficult to determine.
He told Express.co.uk: ‘This figure is derived by looking at Orano (French nuclear company) holding a 51% stake in a joint venture with Kazatomprom in the Kazakhstan mine which produces around 7% of the world’s supply per year.
“Unfortunately, I don’t know how much of this production actually goes to France.”
According to official Euratom data, of the 138,230 tons of uranium imported between 2005 and 2020, 27,748 tons came from Kazakhstan.
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Kazakhstan is the largest producer of uranium in the world
This reliance on Russian-controlled nuclear fuel could put Macron in as vulnerable a position as Germany if Putin decides to halt uranium exports.
Germany, Europe’s largest economy, is particularly dependent on Russian natural gas.
In January alone, Berlin bought 2.6 billion euros (nearly £2.2 billion) worth of oil and gas imports from Russia.
Because of this reliance on Russian gas, Germany has consistently blocked any proposed sanctions on Russian energy exports, fearing that a sudden loss of gas supply could trigger blackouts.
However, it seems that France is not in as vulnerable a position as Germany, as Macron seems to be aware of this vulnerability and has gradually diversified its uranium supply.
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This dependence could put Macron in a position similar to that of Germany
France now imports uranium from a number of suppliers, including Niger, Australia and Canada, which is the country’s largest uranium supplier.
According to Mr. Murison, “under Macron’s leadership, the country has sought to diversify the source of nuclear imports with the aim of minimizing the risk of disruption of such imports.
“If there are disruptions in the supply chain (in one region like Kazakhstan for example), there is increased pressure on other regions for production.
“The disruption of supply from Kazakhstan would place the greatest risk for supply, not only in France but in the world, instead of its dominant share (40% odd) of world production.”