US ban on Russian energy excludes imported Russian uranium; 46% of the uranium used by the US’ 56 operational nuclear power plants comes from Russia
With much fanfare, President Biden Tuesday signed an executive order banning the import of Russian energy supplies including oil, liquefied natural gas (LNG), and coal. However, what’s unknown to millions of Americans is that US imports of Russian uranium won’t be affected by Biden’s executive order.
According to extrapolated data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA):
“46 percent of the uranium used by the US’s 56 operational nuclear power plants is imported from Russia and its Kazakh and Uzbek allies, with 22 percent coming from Canada, 11 percent from Australia, and five percent from Namibia. The US purchased about 10.2 million kg of uranium from Russia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan in 2020.”
To date, nuclear power plants currently account for about 8.9 percent of US energy needs, including 20 percent of the country’s electricity, but America has no active uranium production or processing facilities, leaving it entirely dependent on imports.
According to UxC LLC, a nuclear industry researcher, Russia currently produces about 35% of the world’s enriched uranium for reactors, about twice as much as the No. 2 provider, and supplies about 20% of the U.S. industry. So, any restrictions on nuclear fuel from Russia ‘will have an immediate impact on the market and deal a powerful blow to the US energy sector.
According to multiple media reports, the National Energy Institute, a trade group of US nuclear power generation companies including Duke Energy Corp and Exelon Corp, had engaged in heavy lobbying of the White House to keep Russian uranium deliveries off any sanctions plans amid fears that their inclusion could cause a dramatic surge in US electricity prices.
The United States currently imports most of the uranium it uses as fuel. “Uranium is the fuel most widely used by nuclear power plants for nuclear fission. Uranium is a common metal found in rocks all over the world. Uranium occurs in combination with small amounts of other elements. There are economically recoverable uranium deposits in the western United States, Australia, Canada, Central Asia, Africa, and South America,” EIA said on its website.