Flamanville 3 takes shape (Image: EdF)
Construction work at two new nuclear power reactors as well as a MOX nuclear fuel facility helped drive Areva's first-half sales up by 16%.
Figures announced by the French state's nuclear enterprise showed a 13.6% increase in backlog to €38.1 billion ($59.8 billion), and sales up 16.4% on last year's first half to €6.2 billion ($9.7 billion).
The sudden rise in figures can be attributed to the start of major nuclear projects, which would be expected to maintain the new financial situation in the longer term, rather than indicate too strong a rising trend.
Areva covers the entire scope of the nuclear industry, dividing it into three main business areas: the front end of the nuclear fuel cycle (uranium mining, conversion, enrichment and fuel manufacture); reactors and services (new build, maintenance and replacement of components); and the back end of the fuel cycle (used fuel management, reprocessing, MOX fuel manufacture following recycling, waste management and decommissioning). It also has a substantial division concerned with equipment for the transmission and distribution (T&D) of electricity.
The reactors and services division led the rise in revenues due to major contracts to construct two of Areva's 1600 MWe EPR nuclear power reactors. One has been under construction at Olkiluoto in Finland since early 2005, while construction of a second at Flamanville, France, began at the end of 2007. The start of work at Flamanville 3 helped the division increase its revenues by 31.3% compared to the same period last year.
Involvement in two large contracts from the US government also boosted results. One was a $4.5 billion project to manage legacy military wastes at the Hanford site, another was a the start of work on a $2.7 billion MOX fuel plant at Savannah River in the USA. The start of these contracts this year went towards the boost in back end revenues of 11.2%.
Important contributors to the rise in backlog figures were a string of long-running nuclear fuel contracts with Japanese and US power generators as well as a new deal for Electricité de France's 58 units.
The T&D division also performed strongly after major contracts in the Middle East and Asia and one particular project to renovate the undersea interconnector between France and the UK.