* EDF hopes for framework contract in India this year
* EDF will respond to South Africa nuclear RFI in April
* Sees possibilities in eastern Europe, China, Saudi
By Geert De Clercq
PARIS, March 30 French utility EDF is
making progress with plans to export nuclear reactors to India
and South Africa and says it is in talks with several other
countries about nuclear projects.
EDF nuclear newbuild chief Xavier Ursat told reporters that
once EDF's takeover of Areva's reactor unit Areva NP was
completed by the end of 2017, it would spearhead the French
nuclear industry's export drive.
He said talks with the Indian government about a project to
build six Areva-designed EPR reactors in Jaitapur, south of
Mumbai, were progressing well.
"We do not expect to sign a deal for six reactors in one go,
but our target is to sign a framework agreement this year that
would give us some visibility and allow us to start detailed
studies for this project," he said.
He said EDF's proposals to the Indian government were based
on the current EPR model - which is under construction in
France, Finland and China and will also be built in the UK - not
for a "New Model EPR" which the company is preparing.
Ursat said EDF was also working on a response to the South
African government's "request for information," made in late
2016, which should be ready by the end of April.
South Africa operates two ageing French-built reactors in
Koeberg, but several other reactor vendors including Russia's
Rosatom are also eying the contract.
"We have a history of 30 years of good relations with South
Africa, that counts for something," Ursat said.
He said EDF was also hoping for new contracts in China, but
said talks there would have to wait for the completion of two
EPR reactors under construction in Taishan, southern China.
"By year-end we expect to load fuel in Taishan 1, after that
we probably will have discussions about the future," he said.
Ursat said there were also possibilities in eastern Europe,
including in Czech Republic and Poland.
"Brazil also remains interested in nuclear, but that will
probably take a few years to put into place," he added.
He said there were contacts with Saudi Arabia about nuclear
newbuild, but without a precise time horizon, and that EDF had
held talks with the Malaysian government but there had been no
progress on that front recently.
Asked about the success of Korean manufacturer Kepco in
building second-generation reactors in time and on budget in
United Arab Emirates, he said more modern third-generation
reactors were still the best option.
Both Areva and Toshiba-owned Westinghouse have
effectively been bankrupted by cost overruns on their more
expensive and hard-to-build third-generation reactors.
Westinghouse filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on
Wednesday, while Areva is being recapitalised by the French
state after years of losses.
"I think that our third-generation reactor meets the needs
of countries that are starting with nuclear energy and will move
directly to a third-generation reactor," he said.
(Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Mark Potter)