France's EDF sets sights on $200 bln nuclear decommissioning market

PARIS, July 4 (Reuters) - EDF aims to snare a sizeable share of the global nuclear decommissioning market, worth an estimated 200 billion euros ($222 billion) over the next 15 years, by virtue of experience gained in dismantling its old reactors.

The French state-controlled utility is in the process of dismantling nine reactors and has 58 others in operation, supplying France with about 75 percent of its energy needs.

Worldwide, 110 reactors have been halted and will need to be safely dismantled, EDF executives said, adding that the company has a team of 800 experts in the complex process.

“Nuclear decommissioning is a very important market with opportunities for the international and local nuclear sector,” Dominique Miniere, executive director for EDF’s nuclear and thermal plants, told journalists in Paris.

In terms of opportunities, the company is looking at project management and advanced operations such as the handling and management of nuclear waste and materials that may have come in contact with radiation.

“In Europe, the nuclear decommissioning market could take off in a couple of years,” said Sylvain Granger, EDF director of decommissioning and waste, citing the case of Germany.

In response to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, Germany decided to abandon nuclear power by no later than 2022 and switch to reliance on solar, wind, coal and gas for its energy.

In France, EDF has estimated the long-term cost of decommissioning its reactors and taking care of the waste at about 60 billion euros.

The company said it has made provisions for this by setting aside 23.6 billion euros by the end of 2015, some of it in portfolios managed by its investment arm EDF Invest, producing an annual return of 6.1 percent for the past five years.

Based on the completed decommissioning of reactors in the United States, EDF estimates that it will cost about 400 million euros to dismantle a 900 megawatt pressurised water reactor -- a process that could take up to 15 years.

The company’s first dismantling of a nuclear reactor in France -- the Chooz A reactor that ceased operating in 1991 -- is expected to be completed in 2022. ($1 = 0.8974 euros) (Editing by David Goodman)