Areva says nuclear reactor sales target may slip by one-two years

PARIS Tue May 20, 2014 2:34pm EDT

French nuclear reactor maker Areva Chief Executive Officer Luc Oursel attends a news conference in Paris May 7, 2014. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

French nuclear reactor maker Areva Chief Executive Officer Luc Oursel attends a news conference in Paris May 7, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Charles Platiau

PARIS (Reuters) - Areva's (AREVA.PA) chief executive softened his forecast that the French state-controlled nuclear group would sell 10 reactors by 2016, saying it would be no problem if that deadline slips by a year or two.

CEO Luc Oursel told reporters after the firm's annual general meeting on Tuesday that with expectations for two reactors to be sold in Great Britain and up to four in Turkey, and with several tenders expected in other countries, his target should be achievable.

"And even if it takes a year or two years more, that is not dramatic for the company," he said.

In October, Areva took a 10 percent stake in an EDF-led (EDF.PA) consortium to build two Areva-designed European pressurized reactors (EPR) in Great Britain.

The 16 billion pound ($27 billion) project is conditional on getting EU clearance for the state aid Britain wants to provide in the form of price support and loan guarantees.

A year ago, a consortium led by Japan's Itochu Corporation (8001.T) won a $22 billion contract to build a nuclear plant in Turkey, for which Areva and Japanese partner Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd (7011.T) would supply four of their new Atmea reactors, which have not been built before.

Oursel said the Itochu consortium was negotiating with the Turkish government on the power price and with Areva-MHI on the price of the reactors.

"We hope to sign a contract, probably not this year but next, to deliver four Atmea reactors," Oursel said.

He said he was also waiting for Saudi Arabia to launch a tender for a major nuclear programme but that no date had been set.

Meanwhile, Areva and EDF are preparing the ground for an offer and are already talking to Saudi suppliers and receiving Saudi students in nuclear engineering.

Several potential opportunities have disappeared in the past year, however.

Jordan has dropped its plan to consider an Atmea reactor for its nuclear programme, and Czech utility CEZ (CEZP.PR) has canceled a tender to expand the Temelin nuclear plant, for which Areva was fighting a court battle after being excluded from the bidding.

On Tuesday, Finnish utility Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) said it was delaying plans for a new reactor by five years. Areva had hoped to participate in that tender, despite being in a dispute with TVO over existing project Olkiluoto 3, which has suffered repeated delays and soaring costs.

(Reporting by Geert De Clercq; editing by Jane Baird)