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Areva announces 8 bln euro nuclear deal with China

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Nov 26, 2007
France's Areva announced here Monday it had agreed to deliver two third-generation nuclear reactors to energy-hungry China as part of a package of deals worth eight billion euros (11.9 billion dollars).

"It's a record. In the history of the civilian nuclear industry, there's never been a deal of this magnitude," Areva chief executive Anne Lauvergeon told reporters.

Areva signed the reactors agreement with China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corporation (CGNPC) in a ceremony in Beijing attended by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao.

It ended months of expectations that China would buy two European Pressurised water Reactors, or EPRs, from Areva. They will be delivered by the end of 2013 and 2015, respectively.

Areva also agreed to transfer third generation nuclear technology to CGNPC, which would market the equipment in China through a joint venture, Lauvergeon said, who emphasised Monday's deals were the start of broader cooperation between the firms.

Areva will deliver uranium for the two reactors until 2026, according to the French company.

CGNPC also agreed to buy 35 percent of the uranium production from three African mines that Areva controls.

This uranium will be used for the two new reactors, but also for CGNPC's other reactors, Areva officials said.

Further, French utility Electricite de France will take a 30-percent stake in a Chinese company that will operate the two reactors, located in Taishan in south China's Guangdong province.

With China seeking to rapidly build up its nuclear power industry, the deal was important for Areva after losing out in July to US-based Westinghouse Electric in a bid to build four other reactors.

"China is one of the most exciting markets. China is accelerating its nuclear development, and it's important to be part of this competition," Lauvergeon said.

"For us it is very promising for the future, and Areva ... with its partner can consolidate its presence in one of the most dynamic parts of the world."

CGNPC agreed to pay roughly half the eight billion euros agreed to on Monday in the European currency, and the other half in US dollars, giving Areva better protection against currency risk.

Sources involved in the talks characterised this as "significant", since China usually deals almost exclusively in the American currency.

The EPR was launched in 1992 and has only so far been sold in France and Finland.

Over the coming years, China will build as many as three new nuclear power plants annually, bringing total installed capacity up to 40 gigawatts by 2020, according to the nation's long-term development plan for atomic energy.

At the end of 2006, only 1.9 percent of China's total energy needs were produced by nuclear power but this is set to increase to 4.0 percent by 2020.

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Vattenfall to restart two German reactors by end of February
Frankfurt (AFP) Nov 23, 2007
The Swedish energy group Vattenfall expects to put two closed German nuclear reactors back online by the end of February, a spokeswoman for the utility said Friday.

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