Kremlin May Preemptively Bar Uranium Exports To U.S., Firm Warns

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by Tyler Durden
Sunday, Dec 17, 2023 - 11:05 PM

Oil isn't the only commodity at the center of tensions between the U.S. and Russia...

Now Russian state-owned uranium company Tenex is telling American customers that "the Kremlin may preemptively bar exports" to the U.S. if Washington passes certain legislation that would prohibit imports beginning in 2028, Bloomberg reported on Friday

Tenex's US branch has already alerted firms like Constellation Energy, Duke Energy, and Dominion Energy about a potential scenario, the report says, though Russia hasn't finalized a decision. The individual companies didn't respond to comments from Bloomberg, while Rosatom, Tenex's parent company, refuted claims of any warnings issued to US clients.

Rosatom commented: “Tenex completely refutes as inaccurate the information regarding the alleged ‘warnings’ of a potential ‘pre-emptive’ ban on enriched uranium supplies to the United States.”

“Neither Tenex itself nor any of its subsidiaries have issued any such notifications to their foreign customers,” they added. 

Banning Russian uranium exports could disrupt markets and increase fuel prices, affecting smaller utilities, the report says.

As a reminder, the US Senate halted a fast-track approval of a House bill banning Russian uranium imports, though it remains popular and might resurface.

If the bill passes it would permit imports until 2028 via waivers, giving utilities time to find other sources.

Russia, supplying nearly a quarter of America's enriched uranium last year, is a key provider.

Jonathan Hinze of UxC LLC told Bloomberg that without these waivers, prices could jump from $152 to a record $180 per separative work unit. SWUs measure uranium's volume and enrichment.'

He added: “But if there is an immediate ban it could be even more extreme. There are very limited supplies available.”

Recall we noted at the end of October that hedge funds were loading up on uranium stocks, many of which have had returns double digit percentages higher than the S&P for 2023, after uranium lagged in previous years. 

“We’re most focused on uranium miners in public markets,” Arthur Hyde, a portfolio manager at Segra Capital, told Bloomberg two months ago. “For the supply and demand of this market to balance, we need new assets to come online...If you’re going to insulate the US, Europe and Canada from the global fuel cycle, which is heavily dependent on Russia and China, the best way to do that is to build new mines, new conversion capacity, new enrichment capacity.”