PARIS, Sept 17 French nuclear group Areva
expects to benefit in the medium-term from Japan's
plans to restart nuclear reactors that were taken offline
following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, Chief
Executive Luc Oursel told Les Echos newspaper.
Japan represented 8 percent of Areva's revenues prior to the
disaster. "We should return to that level," Oursel was quoted as
saying in the paper's Monday edition.
Last Friday, the Japanese government announced plans to stop
using nuclear power by the 2030s, joining Germany, Belgium and
Switzerland in turning away from the energy source. Japan was
the third-biggest user of atomic energy before the disaster.
Oursel said he wanted to see if a new Japanese government,
set to be elected later this year, would stick with the plan to
phase out nuclear energy in the coming decades.
State-controlled Areva, the world's biggest builder of
nuclear reactors, supplies nuclear fuels to Japan. The group
also mines uranium and dismantles reactors.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's unpopular
government had faced intense lobbying from industries to
maintain atomic energy and also concerns from its major ally,
the United States, which supplied it with nuclear technology in
"If indeed Japan will get to zero percent in nuclear, the
impact on the global energy market will be very strong: there
will be a massive shift to gas," Oursel told Les Echos.
Gas prices will go up and "competitiveness of nuclear will
be reinforced," he said.
Areva would not speed up developing its share of renewable
energy, such as in offshore wind farms.
"In renewables, we are already developing at a fast pace,
there won't be an acceleration tied to Japan," he said.
(Reporting by Caroline Jacobs; Editing by Mark Potter)