RPT-EDF can support Hinkley Point financial risk -French parliament report

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PARIS, July 13 (Reuters) - French state-controlled utility EDF can bear the financial risks linked its Hinkley Point nuclear project in Britain despite the various constraints it faces, a French parliamentary report said on Wednesday.

EDF’s 18 billion pounds ($26.5 billion) project and its implications for the company has divided opinion in France at a time when its finances are severely stretched.

The report by parliament’s finance committee said it was of the opinion that despite constraints EDF was facing, the risks linked to the project were reasonable, and plans including a 4 billion-euro share issue and sale of a stake in its grid operator unit, will enable it bear the risks.

“Without minimising the importance of financial investment nor the industrial risks linked to the project...we noted that experience gained from ongoing projects will be beneficial in the realisation of the Hinkley Point project,” the report said.

It said Hinkley Point could benefit from EDF’s experience in Taishan in China, where it is building two European Pressurised Reactors (EPR).

The Taishan project, a joint venture with China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) started in 2007, was scheduled to be completed by 2013. However, the reactors, designed by France’s Areva, have been subject to delays in China as well as in France and Finland, over safety concerns.

The report noted that concerns had been raised about consequences for the project following the June 23 British vote to leave the European Union.

It said EDF has told the parliamentary commission it considers that “The vote does not change the fundamentals of the project nor the will of the parties to go ahead with it,” an opinion that seems shared by the British Minister of Energy.

It added that the British government had clearly stated it wanted the company to make a final investment decision on the project as soon as possible.

EDF is expected to make a final investment decision on the project around September. (Reporting by Bate Felix; Editing by Andrew Callus)