Suez buys into Georges Besse II

5 July 2008

Suez and Areva have signed an agreement giving Suez 5% ownership interest in the holding company for the Georges Besse II (GBII) uranium enrichment plant.

The €3 billion ‘ultra centrifuge” facility, which is scheduled for startup in 2009, is being built at the Tricastin site in France’s Drôme department in the Rhône-Alpes region and will be held and operated by Areva subsidiary Société d’Enrichissement du Tricastin (SET). Suez’s Energy Services business line is building the electrical installations, and supplying the fluid management systems, HVAC and process cooling equipment for the new plant. The agreement will also enable Suez to secure a portion of the enriched uranium it requires for its nuclear power reactors.

In February, Areva transferred the centrifuge assembly facility at the Tricastin site to the Enrichment Technology Company (ETC), an Areva and Urenco joint venture. ET France, a subsidiary of ETC, will start assembling centrifuges at the site this summer.

Meanwhile, the European Investment Bank (EIB) is planning to lend up to €400 million to SET for the first phase of the GBII project. An EIB note said the project would “contribute to meet the EU’s objective to have sufficient enrichment capacity for security of [uranium supplies] through developing enrichment facilities using modern and energy efficient centrifuge technology.” It noted the project had passed an environmental impact assessment.

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