Areva’s €7bn shortfall and the limits of state aid. Of all the things not to drop, 465 tonnes of machinery perched above a nuclear reactor ranks high. Such are the perils, however, of refurbishing the nuclear power plants which supply most electricity to France, where in March a steam generator toppled over at one EDF facility as attempts were made to remove it. This week the reverberations were financial, after the French nuclear regulator reported irregularities in components made by Areva, the state-owned reactor maker. Areva bonds — due in 2021 — dropped from 88 cents on the euro to 78, as the market searched for a price. European rules governing public support for industry were updated in 2014, and they exist to protect the continent’s free market from distortion, by preventing member states from using public resources to subsidise or protect national industries. Areva may bring the rules into focus because its need for more capital is clear. EDF may pay Areva €2bn for the company’s reactor unit, called Areva NP, although the energy group is yet to sign on the dotted line. That would leave around €5bn to be raised from investors such as the French government.
FT 5th May 2016 read more »
France’s nuclear sector was rocked to its core on May 4 when the country’s Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) announced that state-owned nuclear manufacturer Areva had confessed to “irregularities in the manufacturing checks” on about 400 parts produced since 1965, about 50 of which are still in service in France. ASN said in a statement that the irregularities “comprise inconsistencies, modifications or omissions in the production files, concerning manufacturing parameters or test results.” The problems came to light as the result of an audit ASN began last year after defects were discovered in the Flamanville EPR reactor vessel head and a review of the manufacturing work performed at Areva’s Creusot steel forging plant. That audit uncovered enough problems that ASN ordered Areva to review its records going back to 2004 when manufacturing for the EPR began.
Power Magazine 5th May 2016 read more »
Following the detection of an anomaly on the Flamanville EPR reactor vessel, and at the instigation of ASN, AREVA initiated in April 2015 a quality review on the manufacturing work carried out in its Creusot Forge plant. Its conclusions were sent to ASN in October 2015. ASN considered that this relatively superficial review, which only went back as far as 2010, was insufficient and did not give a complete picture of the organisation and practices at Creusot Forge, the quality of the parts produced and the safety culture prevailing within the plant. At the end of 2015, ASN asked AREVA to take the process further and go back to at least 2004, which was when the first parts intended for the EPR were manufactured. On 25th April 2016, AREVA informed ASN of the initial results of this additional analysis. They revealed irregularities in the manufacturing checks on about 400 parts produced since 1965, about fifty of which would appear to be in service in the French NPPs. These irregularities comprise inconsistencies, modifications or omissions in the production files, concerning manufacturing parameters or test results. ASN asked AREVA to send it the list of parts concerned as rapidly as possible, along with its assessment of the consequences for the safety of the facilities, jointly with the licensees concerned. The review process will need to be seen through to completion in order to assess all the anomalies which may have affected past manufacturing operations and draw any relevant conclusions regarding the safety of the facilities.
ASN 4th May 2016 read more »