A bankrupt which could cost Finland hundreds of millions

Everybody in Finland knows about the construction of the infamous European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) Olkiluoto 3 commenced in August 2005. The construction of this nuclear plant is a joint effort of French Areva and German Siemens AG through their common subsidiary Areva NP, for the Finnish operator TVO. Initial cost estimates were about €3.7 billion, but the project has since seen several severe cost increases and delays, with latest cost estimates (from 2012) of more than €8 billion. The nuclear plant was initially scheduled to go online in 2009,[ but operations are now expected to start in 2022. The reasons of these additional costs and delays are certainly multiple, and may be due to bad planning, international difficulties and changing constraints imposed by TVO, but are not discussed here.

However, according to the well-informed French investigative magazine “Le Canard Enchaîné”,the penalties imposed to AREVA by TVO reach a colossal level (450 millions Euros, plus 20 million euros per month since 2018). This is why Areva has taken the first step towards bankrupt, and went to court in February 2020. A court-ordered attorney was chosen to find a solution or recommend bankrupt, which would mean the end of the Finnish project and TVO never recovering its penalties, causing it to be near bankrupt.

Happily, there seems to be a solution. Areva has a 20% participation in the capital of Orano, a nuclear giant belonging to Areva, and to two Japanese companies (Mitshubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited (JNFL). The French State seems to be ready to buy these 20% for 600 to 800 million euros, providing cash to AREVA, but MHI and JNFL must accept which does not seem to be easy. And in addition, TVO, owned by Fortum and Stora Enso, should accept to reduce the global and monthly penalties if it wants to save AREVA.

If MHI and JNFL, the Japanese companies co-owning Orano with AREVA, refuse that the French State buys 20 % of ORANO from AREVA, or if TVO refuses to diminish the penalties, there will be dire consequences for AREVA in France, for TVO, Stora Enso and Fortum in Finland, and for Siemens in Germany.

Is the Finnish government aware of these risks?

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