Iran's Uranium Reserves, 44 Billion Barrels of Crude Oil
Hamshahri, Daily Newspaper, Vol. 10, No. 2758, Jun. 23rd, 2002, Page 9 - 16

Head of the Center for Research on Energy and Environment Engineer Dariush Foroughi believes that Iran's uranium reserves can generate energy equal to 44 billion barrels of crude oil, using modern technology and methods. These reserves, which now stand at 12,000 tons, can produce energy equal to 880 million barrels of oil using domestic technology. He puts Iran's coal reserves at 13 billion tons and probably 50 billion tons and the country's wind energy capacity at 6,000 megawatts.

By exploiting its uranium reserves of 12,000 tons, the country can produce energy equal to 880 million barrels of crude oil using domestic technology but if the world's state-of-the-art technology is employed these reserves can be used for generation of energy equal to 44 billion barrels of oil.

According to Engineer Dariush Foroughi, head of the Center for Research on Energy and Environment, nuclear power plants are among the alternatives to fossil fuels and Iran's first nuclear power station in Bushehr would be considered as the first step taken by the country in this respect.

According to preliminary estimates, Iran's uranium reserves stand at around 12,000 tons which if used in current reactors can produce energy equal to 880 million barrels of crude oil. In this method, only 65 percent of the energy of uranium can be retrieved. Of course, with the same amount of uranium, up to 50 times this amount of energy or 44 billion tons can be generated by modern gas-fueled high thermal reactors or reactors using state-of-the-art technology. But access to such technologies in western countries will not be possible until 2015 to 2020 and therefore under a more realistic prediction such technologies would not be accessible to our country for several decades from now.

As for recoverable energies and their position in the country's energy basket, he said that our country enjoys high capacity for making use of solar energy. The studies now under way put wind energy capacity of the country at 6,000 megawatts. The country's capacity for generation of energy from the heat of the earth is relatively noticeable. However, the result of studies by leading international energy institutes show that the share of new energies in meeting the preliminary energy requirements of industrialized countries will rise from four percent to five percent in the next 20 years or between 2000 and 2020. In short, the said countries by drawing up a comprehensive long term plan and pursuing pre-determined goals, expect the share of new energies in their energy basket to rise by one percent in a 20 year long period.

Frankly speaking, in our country no due attention has been paid to new energies or international realities and trends in this connection, nor have qualitative goals or share of the new energies been envisioned in its five year development plans. It seems that the realization of this one percent increase in share is out of reach. To attain a one percent rise in the aforesaid share by our country requires that systematic and consistent research programs with pre-determined goals be drawn up and implemented.

At any rate, research findings point to this fact that the lion's share of the world's energy requirements in the long run will be met by solar energy. However, this objective can be achieved in the next two or three centuries only through systematic programming and well-calculated research and development plans. To this end, he recommended that world developments and trends be carefully pursued and a long-term research plan be drawn up without resorting to scattered and purposeless executive projects. The task of drawing up such research plans should be entrusted to one or more domestic research institutes in order to narrow the gap between research and development and manufacture of needed equipment.

In response to a question as to what should be done until the aforementioned time, he said that first of all the status of energy generation process and energy equipment in our country is such that based on exert estimates, it is possible to increase energy production and saving by between 30 to 40 percent. In addition, our country's present natural gas reserves of 26.7 trillion cubic meters can meet our requirements for 420 years at the current rate of consumption. Although these figures seem to be enticing, it should be noted that production and utilization of such a tremendous volume of gas need huge investments, which are not affordable for our country now. However, this problem is related to the financing of projects in the gas sector and not to the lack of adequate gas fields. The country's coal reserves that are mostly located in desert regions stands at 13 billion tons or probably 50 billion tons. Given the trend of research activities in the world, it is clear that developed countries never neglect research and development activities and based on existing information they make new findings in this field every week.

He added that in recent years, valuable achievements have been made in the field of electricity generation technology, increasing the output of gas turbines, conversion of coal into gas and so on. All of these efforts are being made to preserve energy resources and protect environment. With a simple calculation we can realize that if the recovery co-efficient of oil and gas fields in Iran increases merely by one percent, our country will own a big wealth and a huge capacity.

Engineer Foroughi added that our country has acquired valuable experiences in the oil, gas and electricity industries. When the developed countries are paying attention to this fact that fossil fuels will be the dominant energy resources in the next few decades and thus have concentrated their efforts on attaining higher output levels as well as newer technologies, why we should turn our back to this reality. In short I am of the belief that besides acquiring necessary knowledge about new energy resources and making use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes within the framework of definite plans, the grounds should be prepared to promote this science and master its related technology.

The question of energy saving, increasing energy output, new technologies for generation of electricity of gas and coal must be the centerpiece of the country's development efforts.

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