China pushes nuclear export deals

Business deals in Romania and Argentina may be the first of many

two burnersAccording to the Bloomberg wire service, China General Nuclear Power Holding Corp. has submitted a $7.7 billion bid to build two nuclear reactors at Cernavoda on Romania’s Black Sea coast.

Daniel Lulache, CEO of the Romanian nuclear electric utility, told Bloomberg the Chinese firm must submit a binding bid by September 24.  If the bid is accepted, and the reactors are built, the Chinese firm will own a majority stake in the project.

This is the latest in a series of financing deals sought by Romania. Several consortiums have been established from a technical perspective, but financing could not be secured and the projects did not move forward.  The Cernavoda site supports two 655 MW Candu-6 reactors completed in 1966 and 2007.

There are no details as to what reactor technology might be chosen for the project. A separate Chinese firm, the China National Nuclear Corp. (CNNC) completed safety tests on its APC-1000, a 1100 MW unit, in 2013. According to Nuclear Engineering Intl, it will be offered for export to Pakistan.

China has two operating Candu design reactors but unlike its relationship with Westinghouse, has not yet developed a technology licensing program with AECL to building its own version for domestic use or export. Instead, a possible option is that AECL, now owned by SNC-Lavalin, might be a vendor for the project with the Chinese firm being both a source of financing and serving as the lead EPC firm. In July SNC-Lavalin told the Globe & Mail newspaper it was working on this type of deal for both Romania and Argentina.

CNNC to build and finance a Candu-6 reactor in Argentina

Several nuclear trade press reports indicate the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) has signed a deal with the state-owned nuclear electric utility in Argentina to build an 800 MW Candu-6 design reactor, to be called Atucha-3, at a cost of about $6 billion.  CNNC will provide a combination of financing, equipment, and engineering services based, in part, on its two Candu reactors at Quinshan.

While the Candu design is owned by AECL, Argentina’s economy minister Axel Kicillof told wire services that technology will be enhanced by improvements developed by his country.  SNC-Lavalin has hopes of being the vendor for this project and may also wind up offering some of the financing.

It isn’t a done deal that the Chinese supported project in Argentina will be a Candu-6. CNNC has two reactors designs of its own, a 600 MW and 1100 MW version. Both are intended for export markets.

Argentina has one operating Candu-6 reactor, rated at 648 MW, which was completed in 1984. A second Candu-6 is still under development with construction having been started and then stopped, and then restarted depending on available funds.

Argentina’s finances have been troubled for years, and in August the country was forced into default as a result of a complicated series of court suits by the country’s bond holders in the U.S. Unlike some banks, the U.S. investors have refused to accept write-downs of the value of the debt as a path to settlement. The country’s troubled financial history will weigh in the balance for the new reactor deal.

China General Nuclear inks $2 billion IPO

The Dow Jones News Wire reports that China General Nuclear Group (CGNG) has filed for an initial public offering (IPO) in Hong Kong said to be worth $2 billion.  The date for release of the IPO to investors was not reported.

CGNG is the biggest player in China’s nuclear new build with 27 reactors under construction.

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