February 2001

BNFL challenges Cogema for French nuclear contracts

FT.com, February 6, 2001
By Matthew Jones in London

[Posted 08/02/2001]

British Nuclear Fuels said on Tuesday that it was in preliminary talks with Electricite de France in an attempt to win key atomic services contracts from Cogema, its French competitor.

A BNFL official said EdF was considering opening all of its nuclear contracts to competition, including reprocessing of spent fuel, reactor maintenance and atomic fuel supply.

"EdF has committed to opening the market. We are having ongoing discussions and are hopeful that some contracts will come out of it," he said.

Cogema has been the sole supplier of reprocessing services to EdF up to now and the award of contracts would be an important commercial victory for BNFL, which suffered record losses last year.

One industry analyst said: "There are only two companies that do commercial reprocessing, so if BNFL can pinch some business that would be good news for them and very bad news for Cogema."

EdF is currently negotiating a reprocessing contract for post 2001 with Cogema but BNFL is hopeful of winning business for the post-2005 period.

The award of French reprocessing contracts would help to secure the long-term future of BNFL's Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant at Sellafield in Cumbria, north-west England, which has been threatened by a data falsification scandal for recycled fuel last year.

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