Egypt Begins Construction of Its First Nuclear Fuel Storage Facility

The costs associated with servicing the North African country's foreign debt will keep pulling down the already shaky Egyptian budget, which reached 43% of GDP at the end of 2023

Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi e Vladimir Putin

In connection with the ongoing construction of the Russian-Egyptian El Dabaa nuclear power plant, the Egyptian NPP Authority has applied to the Egyptian Nuclear Regulatory Authority (ENRRA) for authorization to start construction of the first dry storage facility for spent nuclear fuel. The El Dabaa nuclear power plant was designed and is being built by Russian state-owned Rosatom Group under the agreement signed between Russia and Egypt in 2015.

In January 2024, the start of construction work on the fourth and final reactor was inaugurated by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The El Dabaa power plant will consist of four reactors, capable of generating a total of 4.8 gigawatts of electricity, with a total investment of $30 billion.

Construction of some spent fuel dry storage areas was also planned by 2028, with the goal of bringing the plant to full capacity by 2030. ENRAA has already allocated land to house the containers, in view of the completion of work at the nuclear power plant located in Matrouh Governorate, in the western part of the North African country.

The project is estimated to have a net revenue of $264 billion over 60 years, which corresponds to the plant’s reactors lifespan. New sources of revenue are very important for Egypt, which has lost much of the flow of foreign exchange money generated by maritime transit through the Suez Canal. In addition, Egypt will have to face increased costs associated with servicing its external debt. Egypt repaid $15.5 billion in foreign debt in the first six months of the 2023-2024 fiscal year (July-December), compared to $11.9 billion in the same period of the previous fiscal year. As the Central Bank of Egypt emphasized in a press release, “the 30% increase is due to the increase in capital payments, which rose by 1.9 billion, i.e. to $10.9 billion,” as well as “the increase in interest paid, which rose by 1.7 billion to $4.6 billion.” In December 2023 (latest available data), Egypt’s external debt amounted to 43% of the North African country’s gross domestic product.