A breakdown in negotiations over a nuclear power plant in Finland is causing concern among the Finnish government as to the French government’s intentions for the project.

The long delayed and extravagantly expensive Olkiluoto 3 plant is subject to a legal claim between Finland’s TVO and France’s EDF as the latter’s European Pressurised Reactor has proven difficult to get off the ground.

Both sides are claiming the other is responsible for cost over runs, which have accompanied the project being delayed by over a decade. Now a sudden breakdown of talks has rattled TVO, which operates some of Finland’s nuclear power plants.
Construction work at Olkiluoto nuclear power plant
Jarmo Tanhua, chief executive, told the Financial Times, “We are afraid of what is happening. One thing is we don’t really understand why we don’t proceed with the negotiations. Our understanding is that it has something to do with the restructuring in France or the politics.”

Mr Tanhua added that his biggest fear was that the French could decide to run down “some parts of the industry or some know-how”, particularly in its EPR technology. 

But problems with the Areva-made reactor’s design and lack of expertise has meant that Olkiluoto 3 is now due to start electricity production in 2018, compared with an original start date of 2009. 

State-controlled Areva, and its former joint venture partner Siemens of Germany, are suing TVO for €3.5bn in an arbitration case, while the Finnish company is countersuing for €2.6bn. 

Mr Tanhua said he believed TVO and Areva had been “quite close to agreement” over settling the legal disputes, and allowing the carve out of any liabilities from Olkiluoto 3 to enable state-controlled EDF to buy its stake in Areva NP, the reactor business. 

He added co-operation with Areva at the construction site had been going well and no further delays were expected.

“The question is basically now how the French parties are committed to put the nuclear industry back on track for future success. Is the French government committed to the industry? We hope and want to be part of French nuclear success. But we don’t know if we are allowed to,” he added.

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