Newly signed contracts have seen one of Areva's largest ever uranium orders, which will help to secure over 20 years' fuel supply for EDF's reactors.
According to a joint statement from the two French companies, Areva will supply more than 30,000 tonnes of natural uranium to EDF for the period from 2014-2035. The companies have divulged no details on the value of the contracts, which follow on from a long-term partnership agreement announced in January.
The chiefs of both companies declared their delight: Areva CEO Luc Oursel said they were proof of the trust placed in his company by "EDF, our leading customer and partner", while EDF chairman and CEO Henri Proglio said the deals represented an essential contribution to the company's security of supply and demonstrated "the unity of the French nuclear sector."
Since December 2011 Areva has been pursuing a long-term action plan to turn the company around from mounting losses following on from difficulties with reactor construction projects in Finland and France, the downgrading of its uranium assets in Namibia and the market effects of the Fukushima accident. Dubbed 'Action 16', the plan has already led to higher than expected first-half earnings for 2012 and a revision to the company's 2012 forecast.
French energy policy has relied on its nuclear power stations since an energy transition in the 1970s built up the sector to provide some 75% of the country's electricity. However, May 2012 saw Francois Hollande voted in as President of France with a campaign manifesto proposing to reduce nuclear's share of the country's energy mix and pledging to close the oldest nuclear power plant at Fessenheim. Hollande recently confirmed that Fessenheim will close at the end of 2016, and a national debate is to be launched later this year to discuss a new French energy transition, presumably away from nuclear power this time. The findings from the debate will inform a new energy policy bill expected in mid-2013.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News