Nuclear giant Areva makes India priority

20th July 2006, Comments 0 comments

NEW DELHI, July 20, 2006 (AFP) - France's Areva, the world's biggest manufacturer of nuclear reactors, said Thursday it would make energy-hungry India a top priority once the Indo-US nuclear deal is finalised.

NEW DELHI, July 20, 2006 (AFP) - France's Areva, the world's biggest manufacturer of nuclear reactors, said Thursday it would make energy-hungry India a top priority once the Indo-US nuclear deal is finalised.

"As soon as the international framework will allow it, the Indian market will be one of our first priorities," Anne Lauvergeon, chairwoman of the executive board of Paris-based Areva, told a business audience in New Delhi.

An accord on sharing future technology to develop civilian nuclear energy was signed between India and France during a visit in February by French President Jacques Chirac.

State-controlled Areva and General Electric of the United States are among firms vying for a slice of India's lucrative nuclear market once the US-Indian deal to allow New Delhi access to civilian nuclear technology wins final approval in the US Congress.

Russia has also pledged to expand nuclear energy cooperation with India.

India, which imports some 70 percent of its oil requirements, needs new sources of power to keep its burgeoning economy growing, especially with oil prices hitting record highs.

As part of Areva's pitch to India, which wishes to promote its home-grown technical expertise, Lauvergeon said Areva's strategy involves "fully recognising the existing competence and know-how of Indian industry."

"We expect that a significant share of an 'EPR reactor' will be manufactured here. And there is a potential to source in India some components to other international markets," she said.

The EPR is Areva's next-generation European Pressurised Reactor.

Lauvergeon denied to reporters that any deals have already been sewn up before the final approval of the India-US agreement.

"We have no agreement in the nuclear (field) with India or Indian companies ... because we are not allowed to do it so we are waiting (for) the international green light," she said.

During his February visit, Chirac said the French agreement on future nuclear cooperation was inspired by a "moral" desire to help India achieve its economic potential unhindered by "the stranglehold of energy constraints."

Chirac, whose country relies on nuclear power to meet over 70 percent of its electricity needs, also warned if India did not use more nuclear energy it would become a "chimney for greenhouse gases."

Lauvergeon said India would soon join the world's top carbon emitters and climate change could not be tackled without India and China, which both have billion-plus populations.

Nuclear power was a cheap, reliable and clean fuel source, she said, adding China had already launched a large programme to build some 30 new nuclear power plants in the next 15 years.

Her company already has a presence in India through transmission and distribution firm Areva T&D India Ltd.

Nuclear power now supplies just three percent of India's electricity needs but the country is aiming for it to supply around 27 percent by 2030. India is forecast to require 20 to 25 new reactors over the next 15 years.

The US government said Monday it expects lawmakers to take up the landmark deal within weeks, allowing it to win full congressional approval in September.

The controversial pact, which critics say would weaken non-proliferation efforts, would end three decades of international sanctions on nuclear trade with India imposed after New Delhi tested nuclear weapons.

The deal bypasses the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty which India has refused to sign.

India's Science Minister Kapil Sibil, speaking at the same forum, said India faced massive energy challenges and that "what is the best (fuel sources) for India, India will embrace."

Copyright AFP

Subject: French News

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