Preferred bidder for Hinkley Point contract

19 June 2012

A joint venture between Bouygues and Laing O'Rourke has been selected by EDF Energy as the preferred bidder for the contract for civil works to construct the planned new plant at the existing Hinkley Point site in southwest England. A final investment decision on the project has yet to be made.

Illustration of Hinkley Point C
An artist's impression of Hinkley Point C (Image: EDF Energy)

EDF Energy announced that it had chosen a joint venture between French construction group Bouygues and Laing O'Rourke - the largest privately-owned construction company in the UK - as the preferred bidder for the contract to build the Hinkley Point C plant. A consortium between the UK's Balfour Beatty and France's Vinci had also been vying for the contract.

The contract - worth some £2.0 billion ($3.1 billion) - includes the construction of the main civil works for the nuclear island, the conventional island and supporting structures. The work is subject to planning consent and EDF Energy taking its final investment decision at the end of this year.

Prior to the signing of the contract, the Bouygues TP/Laing O'Rourke Joint Venture has entered into a preliminary agreement for early contractor involvement which will see the two companies working on the development of the detailed design, construction methodology and program up to EDF Energy's final investment decision.

According to EDF Energy, "This early engagement will achieve improved project cost effectiveness and construction deliverability by drawing on the joint venture companies' experience of similar projects." Laing O'Rourke was contracted for civil works for the Sizewell B plant in the UK, while more recently Bouygues has conducted civil works for the EPR units under construction at Olkiluoto in Finland and at Flamanville in France. In addition, EDF Energy said the early engagement will "ensure early identification of any issues, that the best processes and people are in place as early as possible, and early engagement can begin with the local community and supply chain."

The company noted that the contract is the first relating to the main construction works for Hinkley Point C. A contract worth over £100 million ($157 million) for site preparation work at Hinkley Point was signed in February between EDF Energy and a joint venture between Kier and BAM. That work includes excavation, earthworks, terracing, installation of construction site infrastructure and formation of roads and networks to allow main construction to begin.

EDF Energy CEO Vincent de Rivaz said, "We will work with Bouygues TP/Laing O'Rourke Joint Venture over the next few months to ensure we are in the best possible position to begin work on site once the investment framework and permissions are in place."

He said that EDF Energy "will continue our discussions with government about agreeing a legally robust investment framework. Agreeing the contract for difference is key ... it means that we and government will have to be clear about our costs before we sign a contract for our project." He added, "We are also working towards obtaining crucial decisions on planning consent and design approval later this year. A huge amount remains to be done but we are determined to do it."

UK secretary of state for energy and climate change Edward Davey commented that EDF Energy's announcement of the preferred bidder "is clear evidence for their commitment to nuclear in the UK, and shows the huge investment and job opportunities new nuclear can bring across the country."

EDF Energy, which owns and operates eight of the UK's nuclear power plants, plans to build four EPR nuclear power units at two new twin-unit power plants, Sizewell C and Hinkley Point C. The first to be built will be Hinkley Point C, which EDF Energy originally said it wanted to begin operating by the end of 2017. The two EPRs at Hinkley Point C will have a total capacity of 3300 MWe - far in excess of the 1320 MWe of the two Hinkley Point B units still operating and the 500 MWe of the Hinkley Point A reactors that shut down in 2000. The first of the two Sizewell C units was expected to begin operating in 2019.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News