CEZ to quit Romanian new-build joint venture

22 September 2010

Czech state-owned power utility CEZ will sell its stake in the consortium established to construct, commission and operate two new reactors at the Cernavoda nuclear power plant in Romania, after signing an amendment to the joint venture contract.


Cernavoda NPP [AECL]
Cernavoda (Image: AECL)
The joint venture, called EnergoNuclear, is 51% owned by Romania's state-owned Nuclearelectrica SA, while CEZ, Belgium's Electrabel (part of GDF-Suez), Italy's Enel and Germany's RWE Power each hold a 9.15% stake. In addition, Spain's Iberdrola and global steel producer ArcelorMittal each hold a 6.2% stake in the project company.


In a statement, CEZ said, "The decision is in line with the announced plan of the CEZ Group to focus on investment in the Czech Republic and consolidate and develop its existing assets abroad."


Cernavoda - Romania's sole nuclear power plant - currently has two reactors, each generating some 706 MW of electricity. The two new 720 MWe Candu reactors at the plant will cost a total of some €4 billion ($5.4 billion) to construct.


In February 2010, EnergoNuclear signed an agreement with Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL) to assess the viability of the project and define what is required to complete and commission the two new units at Cernavoda. Cernavoda 3 and 4 are scheduled to start up in 2016 and 2017, respectively.


The Romanian government has previously stated publicly that it intends to lower its stake in EnergoNuclear and that it will look to do this by negotiating a new structure for the joint venture with its partners.


Following CEZ's withdrawal, it is currently unclear whether the Romanian government will seek to replace the Czech group or simply renegotiate with the remaining shareholders.


The decision to withdraw from Romania comes as CEZ continues to prepare for its biggest ever nuclear tender, which will see the group tendering up to $35 billion for the construction of up to five new reactors in the Czech Republic, including two new reactors at the existing Temelin plant. CEZ currently operates two reactors at Temelin, as well as four reactors at the Dukovany plant.


Existing bidders for the Czech tender include France's Areva, US-based, Japanese-owned Westinghouse, and a Russian-Czech consortium called MIR 1200, which includes Skoda JS, AtomStroyExport and Gidropress.


By Rumyana Vakarelska 

for World Nuclear News