Building a European business

28 February 2019

Working in 60 countries across the world, Wood is used to dealing with changing political dynamics. It is following the Brexit negotiations with great interest while keeping close to its European customers.

WOOD’S NUCLEAR BUSINESS IS EXPANDING in continental Europe driven by rapid revenue growth at subsidiaries in France and Slovakia. The company’s aim is to ensure that this trend continues.

Clive White, Wood’s nuclear president, says: “Operating in so many diverse countries has given us significant experience of change and different political environments. We obviously follow the Brexit discussions closely and look forward to those being resolved in due course.

“Throughout the Brexit process, we have had a close and positive engagement with key European customers and we continue to do that.”

Last year, Wood’s revenue in France grew by 20%, after doubling in 2017. Work at ITER played an important role, where Wood leads the Momentum joint venture, which is responsible for coordinating on-site construction activity, and also leads the European Remote Handling Alliance of companies responsible for neutral beam robotics.

Wood’s French entity was created in 2013 and has grown based on a strategy of bringing new offerings to the French market, derived mainly from the company’s operations in the UK and Slovakia. As well as the ITER fusion project, customers include all of EDF’s engineering centres, Framatome, the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), the Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire (IRSN), the French nuclear regulator (ASN), and Ondraf, the Belgian national nuclear agency.

Growth has been achieved by building on Wood’s relationship with EDF Energy in the UK, winning work at ITER, building a position in the dismantling market, and promoting key differentiators such as Wood’s extensive laboratory and test rig facilities, human factors skills, geopolymer solidification technology from Slovakia, and inspection verification capabilities.

Expertise in waste water treatment and geological disposal helped secure work with Ondraf, while Framatome has tapped into the advanced testing capability at Wood’s UK labs.

Last year Wood, in partnership with Orano, completed a major contract for CEA.

It, entailed retreiving 50t of waste, including discarded magnesium sheaths, which had been stored at Marcoule, 25km north-west of Avignon, for more than 50 years. The work was done by staff from Aix-en-Provence (where Wood Nuclear France is based), Slovakia and the Birchwood office in the UK.

Wood has been in Slovakia since 2008, when it acquired a Trnava-based company focused on turnkey projects in decommissioning and waste management. The business has grown by 50% in each of the past two years, with 95% of projects delivered through local engineering capability.

Growth is being driven by key positions in the Slovak decommissioning market, where Wood is involved in the decommissioning of A1 and V1 plants at Jaslovske Bohunice. The business also provides reactor services support for the Czech utility CEZ at its Dukovany and Temelin plants.

Wood’s solidification and encapsulation technology (SIAL) was developed in Slovakia and has been widely used in central Europe. Trials are now under way at Fukushima and Wood also aims to bring SIAL to the UK market. 

The March edition of Nuclear Engineering International has a focus on Europe.

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Wood is involved in decommissioning the Bohunice nuclear plant in Slovakia

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