Oil Report

A2A to unveil nuclear plans at start of 2010-paper

MILAN, Dec 27 (Reuters) - Italian regional utility A2A SpA A2.MI will present its plans to develop nuclear power at the start of 2010, a company executive told a newspaper, adding he believes at least two Italian consortia should operate in the sector.

Italian utility Enel SpA ENEI.MI and France's EDF EDF.PA have announced joint plans for Italian nuclear plants while a government official has said energy company Eni SpA Eni.MI is well placed to enter the field - though its CEO Paolo Scaroni has said the state-controlled company has no such ambitions.

“Certainly in Italy the nuclear consortia ought to be at least two, because to have only one would mean (going against) the free market,” A2A management board chairman Giuliano Zuccoli was quoted as telling daily Corriere della Sera.

“The entry of other operators in the Enel consortium does not resolve the problem.”

Last week the government approved a decree setting conditions on choosing nuclear power sites in a move aimed at reviving nuclear power after a 22-year hiatus. [ID:nLDE5BL1ND]

Zuccoli played down a possible conflict of interest for A2A due to its joint ownership with possible nuclear rival EDF of Italian power producer Edison EDN.MI.

“We have agreed ... that Edison will play its game (in the nuclear field) independently,” he said.

On A2A's 5 percent stake in Swiss energy company Alpiq ALPH.S, Zuccoli said the company will not sell its "family jewels" off cheaply and a deal is unlikely by the end of the year.

Sources close to the matter have said the company’s dividend is at risk if it does not sell the Alpiq stake, having paid additional taxes to the state.

Zuccoli also warned the company faces taking a hit from overcapacity, rising gas prices and falling consumption in 2010.

Writing by Nigel Tutt; editing by John Stonestreet