September 3, 2015 / 7:16 AM / 5 years ago

FACTBOX-French EPR reactor years behind schedule, billions over budget

PARIS, Sept 3 (Reuters) - French state-controlled utility EDF on Thursday announced new delays and cost overruns for the Areva-designed 1650 megawatt European pressurised reactor (EPR) reactor it is building in Flamanville, Normandy.

The EPR is set to be the first of a new series of safer “next-generation” reactors to replace France’s ageing fleet of 58 nuclear reactors. The Flamanville reactor had been scheduled to start in 2012 and was scheduled to cost 3 billion euros.

A similar EPR reactor built by Areva in Finland, on which construction started in 2005 and was scheduled to start up in 2009, has suffered even longer delays. Two more EPRs are under construction in China and EDF plans to build two in Hinkley Point, Britain.

Below is a timeline of the Flamanville delays and cost overruns:

July 2005: EDF says it plans to build an EPR reactor at Flamanville, which is due to start operating in 2012. The cost is estimated at 3 billion euros.

In its 2005 annual report, EDF estimates the cost at 3.3 billion euros.

May 2006: EDF says construction should begin in 2007 and be completed in 2012.

Dec 2007: Work starts on the Flamanville 3 reactor, which is built next to two older nuclear plants.

Dec 2008: EDF says EPR is due to cost 4 billion euros.

July 2010: EDF says start of Flamanville EPR is delayed until 2014. Construction costs now seen at 5 billion euros.

July 2011: EDF delays the completion of its Flamanville reactor by another two years to 2016. It expects costs to rise to 6 billion euros.

Dec 2012: EDF says stricter regulation in the wake of the Fukushima disaster will bring the total cost of the EPR to 8.5 billion euros. The start-up date is still expected for 2016.

July 2013: EDF installs the dome of Flamanville reactor.

Nov 2014: EDF said the Flamanville reactor will start up in 2017. It says the delay is due to Areva’s difficulties with ensuring a timely delivery of certain pieces of equipment.

April 2015: EDF says weak spots have been found in the steel of the Flamanville EPR. EDF starts a series of new tests on the EPR as construction work continues. Nuclear regulator says carbon concentrations have weakened the mechanical resilience of the steel and its ability to resist the spreading of cracks.

Sept. 3 2015: EDF said the Flamanville reactor will now start in 2018 and cost 10.5 billion euros. (Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Andrew Callus)

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