Finnish utility Teollisuuden Voima Ojy (TVO) has expressed growing concern over the future of France’s nuclear industry amid signs of political wrangling.

TVO was the first customer for French nuclear group Areva’s European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) technology, but construction of the reactor at unit 3 of the Olkiluoto NPP (OL3) has been beset by large cost overruns and a delay of almost a decade. The two companies have been in negotiations to resolve legal claims by both parties, in the run up to the sale of a majority stake in Areva’s nuclear reactor business to French utility EDF. However, the sudden breakdown of those talks has shaken TVO. CEO Jarmo Tanhua told the Financial Times that his biggest fear was that the French could decide to run down "some parts of the industry or some know-how", particularly in its EPR technology.

State-controlled Areva, and its former joint venture partner Siemens of Germany, are suing TVO for €3.5bn ($4bn) in an arbitration case, while the Finnish company is countersuing for €2.6bn. Tanhua said he believed TVO and Areva had been "quite close to agreement" over settling the legal disputes, and allowing the carve-out of any liabilities from OL3 to enable EDF to buy its stake in Areva NP, the reactor business. He added co-operation with Areva at the construction site had been going well and no further delays were expected.

However, he stressed that TVO could not take part in the EDF-Areva restructuring or settle the legal dispute without agreement on completing OL3.

"The question is basically now how the French parties are committed to put the nuclear industry back on track for future success. Is the French government committed to the industry? We hope and want to be part of French nuclear success. But we don’t know if we are allowed to," he added. Areva said it "has been and remains fully engaged in finalising the [OL3] reactor project".