Global Energy News Roundup: June 15

The Forum on Energy weekly news roundup brings together a mix of global energy stories from around the web. It is published every Thursday and is available on Twitter via @forumonenergy

President Trump Meets with North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un During Historic Summit

President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met during a historic summit which some are calling the beginning of a new age of diplomacy. The two leaders met in Singapore to discuss ridding North Korea of its nuclear weapons. During the summit, President Trump also surprisingly agreed to halt military exercises with South Korea. The summit has sparked interest in the debate over Japan’s excess plutonium stockpile, which we highlight later in this post. President Trump stated that both the US and North Korea are “prepared to start a new history and we’re ready to write a new chapter between our nations.”  According to the article “Mr. Trump, who described Tuesday’s talks as honest, direct and productive, said after the summit that he was open to visiting Pyongyang and was ready to welcome Mr. Kim to the White House. Mr. Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton plan to meet next week, possibly with their North Korean counterparts, to discuss next steps, the president said.”

Source: The Wall Street Journal

New Focus Emerges on Japan’s Plutonium Stockpile

The Trump-Kim Summit has sparked new interest in Japan’s plutonium’s stockpile. The US Department of State and National Security Council have called for Japan to reduce its stockpile of plutonium ahead of July’s extension of a bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement. Japan currently has about 47 tons of Plutonium stocked in its country, which according to the article is enough to produce around 6,000 nuclear warheads. Japan has been allowed to extract the material from spent nuclear fuel rods under the bilateral agreement between the US and Japan, known as the 123 Agreement. The article states that “the Trump administration also wants to issue a joint statement, stating that Japan’s plutonium supply is for peaceful use, when the nuclear cooperation pact is renewed, according to people familiar with the matter.” Japan’s government and power companies are expected to “respond in good faith to the request…[but] this isn’t something that is going to happen overnight.”

Source: Nikkei Asian Review

Chairman of Japanese Power Utilities’ Federation Responds to Request to Reduce Plutonium Stockpiles

In response to the request by the US government for Japan to decrease its plutonium stockpile, mentioned above, the Chairman of the Japanese power utilities’ federation Satoru Katsuno stated that “under the principle of not having plutonium with no purpose for usage, we are trying to carry out MOX (mixed oxide) fuel usage at reactors promptly. We will continue to try to curb plutonium stockpiles.” Mr. Katsuno also said that he had not received any request from the Japanese government to reduce the stockpiles. Additionally, he was not aware of the diplomatic discussions.

Source: Reuters

Report Highlights Grid Threats From Retirement of US Nuclear Power Plants

The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) recently published a report outlining how a gas pipeline disruption caused by an extreme weather event or an equipment malfunction could cause a prolonged electricity service failure for large areas of the US if retirements of nuclear power plants continue. The report summarized findings from a study conducted by the international consulting firm ICF. The report states that “a gas pipeline disruption lasting 60 days would see the PJM service area experience ‘load losses’ of more than 200 hours across up to 34 days, with over 45% of the affected gas-fired capacity having no back-up fuel capability.” The study shows that nuclear power plants can help to mitigate these losses.

Source: World Nuclear News