(Adds safety authority’s, Rosatom comments)
By Jussi Rosendahl and Tuomas Forsell
HELSINKI, Sept 18 (Reuters) - A consortium planning to build a new nuclear plant in western Finland said on Monday it was likely to take a year longer than expected to get a construction licence due to delays in providing documents to safety authorities.
Finnish-Russian group Fennovoima said it did not expect to get the licence until 2019, but added it was not able to say whether the start of the reactor would be postponed from 2024.
Design work by Russia’s Rosatom, the supplier and co-owner of the Hanhikivi 1 project, had been slower than expected, it said.
“We will review how this will impact the project schedule with the Russians. I don’t yet have a comment on it,” Fennovoima project director Minna Forsstrom told Reuters.
Safety authorities said the project did not have enough planning resources.
“The delays in the delivery of documents ... are in our view mainly due to a slower than expected organising of the project, as well as lack of resources in the project management,” the Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority said on its website.
It added Rosatom had recently moved more employees to Helsinki to address the planning problems.
Rosatom said in an email to Reuters it had “mobilised all the resources, tools and experts necessary to be able to prepare the licence documentation on time”.
It added the original 2018 deadline was still feasible, although it recognised more time might be required.
The project has faced obstacles as many of its original investors have opted out in the past years, including Germany’s E.ON and Swedish metals firm Boliden.
Rosatom, which has been stepping up overseas expansion, agreed in 2013 to take a stake in the reactor, and to supply and finance it.
The involvement of the state-owned Russian company prompted concerns in Finland after the Ukraine crisis in 2014, but Finland’s parliament nevertheless backed the plan by 115 votes to 74.
The project is 66-percent owned by Voimaosakeyhtio SF, which includes more than 50 Finnish regional utilities and other companies. Rosatom holds the remaining 34 percent.
In another troubled Finnish nuclear project, the Olkiluoto 3 reactor is expected to begin production almost a decade later than initially planned, and plant supplier Areva and its client, utility TVO, are locked in a dispute over the delays. (Reporting by Jussi Rosendahl and Tuomas Forsell; editing by Mark Potter and Jason Neely)