September 28, 2016 / 10:01 AM / in 3 years

Finnish client takes new legal action against Areva over nuclear project

HELSINKI/PARIS (Reuters) - Finnish utility Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) has started fresh legal action against French nuclear group Areva to avoid further delays at its Olkiluoto 3 nuclear reactor in Finland, company spokesman said.

The project, almost a decade behind its original schedule, is nearly complete, but TVO wants assurances that a restructuring of plant supplier Areva won’t cause further delays and that the plant would be ready to begin production in 2018 as planned.

“We have asked for this several times but have not received the necessary assurances,” he said by phone, adding that TVO is now seeking assurances through a case filed in Nanterre Commercial Court, in France.

TVO and Areva are already claiming billions of euros from one another at the International Chamber of Commerce’s arbitration court because of delays and cost overruns on the project which was originally due to start operation in 2009.

In the restructuring of the French nuclear power industry, Areva is due to sell its nuclear reactor unit to another state-owned utility EDF, but Olkiluoto 3 is planned to be handed to another legal entity.

That has made TVO concerned that the French would in the coming years prioritise other projects, such as Flamaville in France and Hinkley Point in Britain.

Areva on Wednesday said that the restructuring would not harm the Finnish project.

“Our group will provide all necessary answers,” a spokeswoman told Reuters in an email, confirming they had received the court order on Tuesday.

“Areva is fully mobilised to complete the project as soon as possible and according to the updated schedule.”

Finnish media earlier this week said that TVO had also approached the European Commission which has opened an investigation to determine whether the French financing for the restructuring complied with state aid rules.

When Olkiluoto 3 project was launched, its cost was estimated at 3.2 billion euros ($3.6 billion), but in 2012 Areva estimated the overall cost would end up closer to 8.5 billion euros.

The EPR reactor is set to become Finland’s fifth and largest, and cover about 10 percent of the country’s power supply.

TVO’s owners include Finnish utility Fortum and paper companies UPM and Stora Enso.

Editing by Jussi Rosendahl and Elaine Hardcastle

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