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Algeria in nuclear technology talks

As part of French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s tour to encourage support for a "Mediterranean Union", the president visited a number of southern European countries and their north African neighbours.

While in Algeria, industry sources report that the President has been in discussions over sharing nuclear energy technology and research.

Reportedly, Sarkozy hoped to announce a wider accord on energy when he returned to Algeria in November. "We will have the opportunity to make concrete proposals in November," including proposals on "the energy of today and the energies of tomorrow, including nuclear."

Algerian President Adelaziz Bouteflika has apparently indicated an interest in sharing nuclear expertise with the French, which would include training of Algerian engineers at French nuclear power group, Areva. Through cooperation with oil rich Algeria, France stands to benefit by access to increased energy security.

Algeria has been actively pursuing nuclear co-operation with a number of countries and last month signed an agreement with the United State which explores possible joint projects on the peaceful use of nuclear energy and radioactive waste management. In January, a deal was signed with Russia regarding future cooperation and the Algerian government has confirmed that nuclear could be part of the country’s future energy mix. There are also plans to sign agreements with South Africa and Egypt.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Chakib Khelil, minister of energy, said "Algeria has uranium resources and also research facilities. We are looking for any partners who can help us develop. So we don’t exclude nuclear power, it’s an option in the long term, so we are working on it."