At a time where EDF claims the role of patron of the French nuclear industry, its partners but also Areva and GDF Suez rivals prepare to strengthen their cooperation. The public nuclear group and the Franco-Belgian electrician are close to announce a strategic partnership in the civil atom.
After having negotiated for a year, they had to sign a memorandum of understanding last week. The subject was to be submitted to the Board of Directors of GDF Suez on 20 January. But the controversy occurred in broad daylight between Areva and EDF has led both partners to shift the signature, and the point was not been addressed to the Council of GDF Suez. Contacted, Areva and GDF Suez emphasize that it is a long-term project and that no decision has been made. Officially, the discussions continue.
In fact, the planned agreement is what offending the aims of Henri Proglio on HABs atom. After the failure of the France in the tender of Abu Dhabi, the new pattern of EDF wants to make his company the undisputed leader in the sector, giving a simple provider role to Areva. Its scheme leaves a modest room for rival GDF Suez.
Desalination of sea water
With the partnership that they negotiated, Areva and GDF Suez show they want to move forward together without waiting for the findings of the mission on the future of the sector, which has been entrusted by the President of the Republic to François Roussely, the ex-patron of EDF. The agreement, which has no capital component appears to be strategic for both groups. It provides common studies for the construction of reactors in France, agreements crossed in materials engineering and training, and studies on the use of nuclear power for desalination of sea water. Especially, this partnership should translate into participation of GDF Suez in the development of the Atmea, the reactor of average power that Areva designed with its partner Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
Interest in GDF Suez would participate in the detailed design of the reactor, for its construction. The electrician could then become the first customer for the Atmea, a way to make the expansion of the range of Areva. Henri Proglio, inter alia, criticized the group to rely only on its EPR reactor, which has a capacity of 1.650 megawatts. His little brother, which displays 1.110 MW power, would be better for a country such as the Jordan.
GDF Suez would also become the third electrician with Areva would work so closely, after his historic client EDF and the German E.ON. Partners in Abu Dhabi, GDF Suez and Areva for a long time. The patron saint of Areva, Anne Lauvergeon, sits on the Board of Directors of the group led by Gérard Mestrallet.
The agreement confirms the ambitions of GDF Suez nuclear. The group, which already operates power plants in Belgium and would like to do the same in France, already is shareholder of the new enrichment plant of Areva, Georges Besse 2, unlike EDF. Remains to know what he will give the public authorities to the outcome of the reorganization of the sector.