* Areva-Siemens consortium is building Olkiluoto 3 for TVO
* TVO says new start date "hard to accept"
* Areva blames delayed approvals
* Areva, Siemens see no additional financial hit
(Adds Siemens statement, shares)
By Jussi Rosendahl
HELSINKI, Sept 1 Areva-Siemens, the consortium
building Finland's biggest nuclear reactor, said on Monday the
start date of the much delayed project will be pushed back to
late 2018 - almost a decade later than originally planned.
Areva-Siemens blamed disagreements
with its client Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) over the plant's
automation system, the latest blow for a project that has been
hit by repeated delays, soaring costs and disputes.
Olkiluoto 3, which will be Finland's fifth and biggest
nuclear reactor as it aims to increase energy self-sufficiency,
was originally due to start operating as early as 2009, but has
been hit by repeated delays and soaring costs.
Areva said construction, which started in 2005, would not
be completed before mid-2016, and that operations at the 1,600
mega-watt plant were not expected to start until late 2018.
TVO, whose owners include Finnish paper companies UPM
and Stora Enso as well as utility Fortum
, said the late start-up was hard to accept given that
much of the project was complete to a high technical standard.
"The delays are because the planning of the plant has taken
needlessly long," Jouni Silvennoinen, TVO's project head, told
Reuters on Monday.
"We haven't examined the supplier's detailed schedules yet,
but our preliminary view is that we could do better (than
Areva said it had faced difficulties getting the reactor's
systems approved, and urged TVO to take a more active role in
Silvennoinen said he welcomed all initiatives to speed up
The delayed project is also postponing another nuclear
plant plan at the site in western Finland. TVO has a general
permit to build Olkiluoto 4, but it recently asked the
government for a five-year extension to that licence.
Finland plans to raise its total nuclear reactor fleet to
seven in the 2020's.
TVO and Areva have traded accusations about who is to blame
for delays and extra costs, and the International Chamber of
Commerce's (ICC) arbitration court is processing a dispute on
cost overruns between the consortium and TVO.
Areva-Siemens last year raised its compensation claim to 2.7
billion euros, while TVO has submitted a counter claim of 1.8
The plant's construction costs were initially estimated at
around 3.2 billion euros. TVO has not updated the sum, but many
say it could double at least.
Siemens, which has a 27 percent share of the consortium,
meanwhile put the blame on Areva, saying its part of the
contract - the non-nuclear, or Conventional Island, part of the
power plant - was virtually complete.
"Siemens is currently performing the first commissioning and
testing phase in the Conventional Island," it said on Monday,
adding that joint commissioning and testing would begin once
Areva had finished its share of the work, the so-called Nuclear
Siemens said it did not expect to book further financial
charges due to the project, after 152 million euros ($200
million) in 2012 and 87 million in the year before, as its risk
provision already took uncertainties in the schedule into
Areva also said the updated schedule would not have an
impact on its project losses, which totalled 3.9 billion euros
as of end-June.
Shares in Areva were up 0.2 percent by 1053 GMT,
outperforming a 0.2 percent decline by French blue-chips
, and Siemens was up 0.06 percent.
Finnish-Russian consortium Fennovoima is also having
difficulties proceeding with its project to build a new plant in
western Finland because the Ukraine crisis is driving away
investors. ($1 = 0.7614 euro)
(Additional reporting by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Mark Potter
and Susan Thomas)