US Energy Secretary in Slovenia, Interested in Selling Nuclear Reactor Tech

By , 05 Jun 2019, 15:42 PM Politics
US Energy Secretary in Slovenia, Interested in Selling Nuclear Reactor Tech Ken Shipp / United States Department of Energy

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STA, 5 June 2019 - The United States is keen on selling Slovenia technology for small modular nuclear reactors, US Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Wednesday as he made a stop in Slovenia for a summit of the Three Seas Initiative.

Related: Slovenia Hosts Three Seas Initiative Summit Wed, Thu (Background)

Slovenia is "an excellent potential market for this game-changing technology," said Perry. Asked why Slovenia, which is considering building a second reactor in Krško, should choose a US-made reactor over designs from France, China or Russia, Perry said "US nuclear technology is the best in the world" and "Westinghouse makes the best reactors in the world."

Perry noted that since the existing reactor in Krško had been build, the technology had changed, while adding that this was not only about the best technology but also about safety and non-proliferation.

"We want to be your partner. Slovenia may not show up on everybody's radar screen as the country you want to do business in, but for the United States it is an important country," he said, noting that the expansion of the Krško plant was "an opportunity for the US and US companies".

Perry also said that next month the first US-EU forum on small modular nuclear reactors will take place in Brussels and it will be a great opportunity "for the region to come together to hear some exciting things that are going on in the small modular reactor world."

Both President Borut Pahor and Prime Minister Marjan Šarec have been invited to the conference in bilateral talks earlier today and they are "both very interested," he said.

Pahor's office said the talks revolved around diversification of energy sources, which both said were important, while also highlighting the need for protecting the environment.

Šarec meanwhile stressed that Slovenia and the US were strategic partners which should continue deepening political, economic and security ties.

Cooperation in energy with the aim of providing "safe, sustainable and competitive energy" was also highlighted by Šarec's office, which quoted the prime minister as saying that nuclear energy was important for reliable energy supply in Slovenia.

Another major US interest, not just in the Three Seas region but also in Europe in general, is to export liquefied natural gas (LNG), which Perry framed as Europe's change to diversify energy sources and routes, and reduce its dependence on Russia.

As Perry pointed out, the US made 40 shipments of LNG to Europe in the first quarter alone, which is "an astonishing number". But the availability of US gas is also pushing down global prices, which is why the notion that US LNG cannot compete with Russian gas is not true.

He pointed out that the US is not saying Europe had to buy its gas, as countries such as Qatar and Australia can also act as suppliers. "The multiple supplier formula is very good for Europe," he said.

Another component of the US energy policy on Europe is opposition to North Stream 2, a new proposed gas pipeline from Russia into Europe.

The Trump administration is considering imposing sanctions on companies behind the project, which Perry confirmed was an option. But he was also quick to point out there is opposition to the project in Europe as well, since many countries "do not want to rely on a single source of fuel".

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