Nordic Nuclear New Builds Seek Deep Pockets

Areva and Rostom look for billions (euros) to fund new reactors in Finland

  • Areva seeks arbitration for a claim of 3.5 billion euros ($4.4 billion) against its customer TVO over costs incurred in construction of the Olkiluoto-3 1650 MW EPR in Finland.
  • Rosatom says it will tap the national pension program to pay for its equity stake and construction costs of a new nuclear reactor for Finnish utility Fennovima at Pyhajoki.
  • Swedish Greens duck a vote in parliament over their efforts to close reactors.

Areva smacks TVO with new claims for compensation

French state-owned nuclear giant Areva’s new acting  CEO Phillipe Knocke is no stranger to the firm’s cash flow problems. So it is no surprise that with the company having just dodged a bullet from S&P’s withdrawal of a planned “junk” rating of Areva’s stock. that looking for deep pockets seems to be the order of the day.

While Knocke’s financial expertise is skewed to the telecommunications industry, he has one thing going for him. Both he and current French president Hollande went to high school together and both men have known and worked with each other for most of their adult lives.

One place Areva is looking for cash is in Finland which it has upped its claims against TVO the utility for which it is building a 1650 MW EPR nuclear reactor.  Now several years late, and a couple of billion (euros) over budget, Areva says not all of these problems are its fault. Areva increased its claim to 3.5 billion euros from a previous action asking for 2.6 billion euros.

TVO, which told Reuters it is enraged by Areva’s claims, has its own fish to fry claiming Areva owes the Finnish utility 2.3 billion euros, an increase from a previous claim of 1.8 billion euros. A TVO executive, Risto Sillos, is quoted by Reuters as saying  that Areva, as the supplier, is responsible for delays and related costs, in a fixed price contract.

Both parties seek arbitration of their respective claims. World Nuclear News has more details on the claims and counter claims. Settlement of the disputes may take years.

In the meantime, Finland’s government rejected, for now, TVO’s application for a permit to start work on a fourth reactor. The government said it wanted to see progress and a firm start date for unit 3 before giving a green light to unit 4. Unit 3 is now expected to enter revenue service in 2018.

Rosatom to divert oil & gas profits into nuclear reactor business

It’s been said that Russia really isn’t a country anymore. It’s real an oil & gas company with a thin candy shell that gives it the appearance of being a sovereign nation. That picture came into sharper focus with the news that Rosatom, which exports the Russian VVER light water reactor to global markets, said it would fund a new reactor in Finland by tapping state-owned oil & gas profits that go into the nation’s equivalent of the nation’s social security retirement program.

According to English language news media in Finland, Russian Minister for Economic Development Alexei Ulyukayev said money for Rosatom’s equity stake and for construction costs would be taken from the National Welfare Fund. The new 1200 MW reactor is expected to cost 4-6 billion euros.

In a fit of Finnish fury, the Green party leader Ville Ninisto said his group would quit the government over the announcement saying that Russia’s growing influence over the country’s energy supply was a problem. However, Finnish PM Alexander Stubb said it was a matter of pragmatic politics given Finland’s long border with Russia and the huge amount of trade that takes place between the two countries.

Sweden’s Greens duck parliament vote on closing reactors

With Swedish Greens now in the coalition government in Sweden, they are wasting no time in pursuit of their goal of closing the country’s 9 GWe of nuclear powered generating capacity. There is just one problem for the Greens. They don’t have the votes in parliament to make the policy stick. Plus, there is the problem for them that the reactors provide 43% of the nation’s electricity. A majority in parliament want to keep the lights on.

That hasn’t stopped the Greens from pushing a package of proposed government policies of new operational regulations, taxes, and trying to undo a government policy, inked in 2010 by parliament, of replacing aging reactors one-by-one.

What the Greens need to make their efforts have the rule of law behind them is an affirmative vote in parliament. It’s not likely they’ll get it. The backup plan for the Greens is that falling prices for electricity will force Swedish utilities to close their oldest reactors. That’s not likely to happen either as the units are humming away as cash machines have long since retired their debt.

Swedish utility EON says that while it has no plans to build new reactors, the ones it owns are doing just fine. Vattanfall has studies underway to replace some of its units which are nearing the end of their service lives. For a complete profile of Sweden’s nuclear fleet see the country report on Sweden by the World Nuclear Association.

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Dan Yurman ~ About this blog and disclaimers for NeutronBytes ~ ~ ** Contact Me ~ ~ Text via Signal 216-218-3823 ~ I am NOT active on Facebook, Reddit or Instagram. Attempt no landings there. ** Header Image Credit: ~ ** Emails sent by readers about blog posts are considered to be comments for publication unless otherwise noted. ** The content of this blog is protected by copyright laws of the U.S. "Fair use" provisions apply. The RSS feed is for personal use only unless otherwise explicitly granted.
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