Report NP-34

Evaluation of prospects for a nuclear power plant in Morocco.


Decision tree for evaluation of potential nuclear power plant project in Morocco.

Location and general character of Morocco

Map of Morocco at from Univ. of Pennsylvania African Studies Center.

Basic traits:

Is there a need?

Population: 31,689,265 (July 2003 est.). Population growth rate 1.64% (2003 est.). This ranks 88 out of 235 countries, and is similar to countries such as Columbia, Bolivia, and Algeria.

"In 2003, Morocco's real GDP increased an estimated 5.2%. Morocco's economy grew especially rapidly in 2003 because of ample rainfall. The disproportionate importance of the agricultural sector, which employs 43% of the population, makes Morocco's economy vulnerable to external shocks, like extremely good (or bad) weather. The expected return of normal weather patterns has led to forecasted GDP growth of 3.5% in 2004." Source:

"According to January 2004 estimates, Morocco has proven oil reserves of 1.6 million barrels and gas reserves of 43 billion cubic feet (Bcf). Morocco may have additional hydrocarbon reserves, as many of the country's sedimentary basins -- especially those offshore on the Atlantic continental shelf or in deep waters off the shelf -- have not been explored." Source:

"The vast majority of Morocco's electricity is generated in thermal power plants that burn oil and coal. All of the oil is imported, and most of the coal comes from South Africa (the United States and Columbia are also key suppliers). Morocco produces a small and declining amount of coal from a mine at Jerada." Source:

Water is a particular scarce resource. It is classified as a 'water-stressed' country. Nuclear power has been sought for a significant time in order to provide the energy for a desalinization plant.

Summary: The following indicates need exists: a) ongoing population and economic growth, b) only modest oil/gas reserves and a dependence on exports for energy minerals, and c) a need for water.

Basic requirements for nuclear power:

Evaluation of basic requirements for Morocco

1) Is there a source of Uranium fuel?

2) Appropriate sites for nuclear power plant.

3) Appropriate sites for waste disposal?

4) Technologic know-how to support nuclear power?

Summary: While more specific investigation would be needed for selection of specific sites, Morocco appears to have the necessary basic requirements. However, technologic know how is in its infancy and outside help would likely be necessary to meet this requirement.

Basic risk factors associated with nuclear power.

Evaluation of basic risk factors for Morocco.


Flooding in 2002 wiped out largest oil refinery. Satellite view of these floods.

Political stability and weapons proliferation?

Morocco has signed nuclear non-proliferation and environmental treaties.

Accidents: this is difficult to assess, but is related to the level of technologic expertise. Due to the associated need of external support, operation costs would be initially higher.

Legal risk:

Fuzzy score for risk

Fuzzy categories of assessed risk: very low = 0, low = 1, moderate = 2, high = 3.

   Japan  Iraq  France  Morocco
 Natural Hazards 3 3 1  2
 Political Instabiliy 0 3 1  2
 Weapons Proliferation 0 3  0  1
 Accidents 1 2  0  2

Summary conclusion: While the basic requirements for nuclear power exist, significant risk exists from both natural hazards and political related factors. The seismic risk may be reduced by locating more to the south, by careful site selection, and by engineering for seismic durability. The politically related risk may diminish with time, if ongoing democratization processes are sucessful. Initially, substantial external support will be necessary, and will add to operating costs.