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PARIS, Sept 17 (Reuters) - 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 the 1950s.
"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)