Framatome extends its reach

29 October 1999

Until 2004, engineering and maintenance services for Eskom’s Koeberg plant (PWR, 2x965MWe) in South Africa are to be supplied by French nuclear contractor Framatome. The contract was signed on 1 June this year, and it will cover eight scheduled outages, the first of which began in mid September.

The contract is described by Framatome as fulfilling classical shutdown routines. It includes:

• Co-ordination of scheduled outage work.

• Mechanical maintenance of valves and pumps, performed by Framatome teams headquartered in Lyons.

• Reactor coolant pump maintenance, performed by subsidiary Jeumont Industrie.

• Supply of spare parts, which will be sourced from France.

• Modification engineering analyses.

• Engineering support.

• Fuel loading and unloading.

• In-service inspections, including steam generators.

• Non-nuclear servicing work.

The contract is said to be worth some

$24 million over the five year period, and two local South African companies will be employed for part of the work. They are Rotek, a subsidiary of Eskom, which will provide valve maintenance services, and JEV, which will provide modification engineering analyses. Following training by Framatome, local companies will also be used in some aspects of servicing.

The Koeberg plant was designed and fabricated by Framatome and in fact was one of the first plants it exported as a turnkey project. The two units were started up in 1984 and 1985, respectively. Framatome says the new contract is intended to strengthen the co-operation which has been in place between Eskom and Framatome for many years to make it “more like a partnership”.


Framatome’s South African contract illustrates the company’s intention to bring together its maintenance technologies to offer customers a services “package”. The same intention is at work in the company’s US arm, Framatome Technologies Inc.

Recently, for example, FTI has employed its Innovative Measurements Solutions (IMS) group to prepare for complex maintenance tasks. The IMS group evolved as part of FTI to support steam generator replacement projects, which often require very tight fit-ups for narrow groove welding. The group uses a variety of techniques, including photogrammetry, theodolites and laser trackers to obtain precise measurement data. Having such detailed data available provides a reliable basis for maintenance projects, ensuring they are completed as fast as possible.

IMS was used recently at TVA’s Sequoyah plant, where it was necessary to replace a containment spray heat exchanger. Fit-up tolerances of ±0.0625 in were required for the new heat exchanger, and the replacement was allotted a 10-day replacement window. The IMS group collected measurements of the old heat exchanger during operation, and produced a schematic accurate to ±0.005 in that could be used to fabricate the new unit. Once the replacement unit was completed the IMS team performed an inspection and identified two out-of-spec conditions, which were corrected. In making the schematic the IMS team also found a removal interference problem. According to FTI, this extensive checking process avoided unplanned modifications estimated at $75 000-125 000.

At Virginia Power’s Surry plant the IMS group used photogrammetry to help in the replacement of residual heat removal piping. Photogrammetric measurements allowed the relative spatial position of the in-containment piping to be duplicated in the engineering shop, so that some sections could be pre-welded. Surry was able to move around 60% of the project machining and welding activities out of containment.

FTI has extended Framatome’s traditional activity as a PWR specialist and this year, for example, it has been providing outage services at the Hope Creek BWR, owned by New Jersey based Public Service Electricity and Gas (PSE&G). Extensive balance of plant work included replacing emergency core cooling system suction strainers. The new strainers – which have a larger surface area, to reduce the potential for clogging during a design basis accident – had to be lowered into the torus and assembled by divers. The divers used new drilling techniques that enabled the required time to be reduced from an hour to 10 minutes per hole. The team had participated in a number of similar strainer replacements, and pre planning, including dry fit-up of the assemblies in advance of the outage, was maximised to reduce assembly problems.


FTI has recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Siemens Power Corp, US arm of the Germany-based power company, to bring together their businesses in chemical cleaning of steam generators.

The memorandum is expected to lead to an agreement on Siemens’ patented high temperature chemical cleaning technology. Siemens will provide the process, expertise and equipment, while FTI will manage the application, providing personnel, equipment and waste processing services.

The agreement is presently restricted to the US but it is by no means the first time that Framatome and Siemens have worked together. Among other alliances, the two companies jointly own Nuclear Power International, which was set up as a joint venture company to design and market a new PWR, and market current products in third countries. The new reactor, known as the EPR, is still under development and is currently at a detailed design phase.

There is continued speculation that the next in the current spate of mergers and acquisitions in the power industry may bring Siemens and Framatome together permanently. The possibility was raised once more recently when Alcatel of France said it planned to sell its stake in Framatome. French industry minister Pierre commented then that Siemens and Framatome were “natural partners”, but so far Siemens has not taken the bait

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