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Oil Report

UPDATE 3-Finnish govt grants permissions to 2 nuclear reactors

* Govt picks TVO, Fennovoima to build new nuclear reactors

* Says no to utility Fortum

* Says aims to make Finland electricity self-sufficient

(Rewrites, adds government’s decision, quotes)

By Terhi Kinnunen

HELSINKI, April 21 (Reuters) - Finland's government granted on Wednesday a permission to utility Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) and consortium Fennovoima to build new nuclear power stations, but rejected Fortum's FUM1V.HE application.

“We are giving a strong signal to the industry that it is worthwhile to invest in Finland. Granting one (nuclear reactor) permission is not enough,” Mauri Pekkarinen, Minister of the Economy, told a news conference.

He added the aim was to get rid of Finland’s dependency on electricity imports from neighbouring countries, especially Russia and to cut CO2 emissions.

Reaching a unananimous decision on the multi-billion-euro nuclear projects in the coalition government was not easy as the four parties have different views on the matter.

Anni Sinnemaki, leader of the Greens, said the party still opposed building new nuclear reactors and would vote against it.

Also Fortum said it was disappointed with the decision and would consider if it could participate in a nuclear reactor project in some other country.

“Yes, of course our main reaction is disappointment, we think the decision is unfortunate. We met all the requirements,” said Fortum’s Chief Executive Tapio Kuula.

“I don’t think it is very likely that Fortum would build a nuclear reactor for itself (abroad), but we are not excluding ownership in another nuclear plant. Or we could have another role, for instance as an expert.”

PARLIAMENTARY APPROVAL STILL NEEDED

The decision to build two new nuclear reactors must be approved by parliament, which is expected to start processing the parliamentary term’s most important decision in May and the final vote is estimated to take place in the summer at the earliest.

Energy companies and Finnish industry have said all three reactors should be built to secure cheap electricity to meet expected rising demand.

Such investment would be a shot in the arm for the export-dependent Nordic country, which has struggled to emerge from the recession as global markets for electronics, timber and metals remain weak.

TVO, whose owners include utility Pohjolan Voima, Fortum and Finnish industrial companies like Kemira KRA1V.HE, is currently building Finland's fifth nuclear reactor in western coast at Olkiluoto.

The building of Olkiluoto 3 has fallen well behind its original schedule by more than three years, with the estimated start now expected in the second half of 2012.

TVO and French Areva CEPFi.PA have taken the dispute over the ballooning costs to the International Chamber of Commerce. (Additional reporting by Brett Young; editing by James Jukwey)

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