French Orano to join $8bn nuclear power plant expansion project in Romania
The prime ministers of Romania and France signed a declaration of intent on cooperation in the civil nuclear field aimed at collaborating in the construction of reactors 3 and 4 at Cernavoda and refurbishment of reactor 1, on October 26 in Paris, Romania’s PM Ludovic Orban announced.
As announced in Washington last month, France will be involved, together with the US and Canada, in the construction of the Cernavoda reactors under the $8bn project.
Orban signed a new roadmap with his French counterpart, Jean Castex, on the strategic partnership between the two countries. Furthermore, an agreement was signed between Romanian nuclear company Nuclearelectrica and Orano, a French state-owned group in the field of nuclear energy.
A consortium led by US engineering firm AECom and including Canadian, French and Romanian partners will develop the $8bn nuclear plant expansion at Cernavoda, according to an intergovernmental agreement signed by US Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette and Romanian Minister of Economy Virgil Popescu on October 6 in Washington.
Orano specialises in uranium mining and was initially established in 2017 as a subsidiary of Areva, following a restructuring process. Later, Areva, which was facing financial problems, lost control of the company to the French state. Orano is currently one of the largest uranium producers in the world.
Romania has been planning for years to expand the Cernavoda nuclear power plant. It originally planned to work with China General Nuclear Power Corp. (CGN), but broke off talks on building the two new reactors after the negotiations went cold.
Orban had warned back in January that the government would exit the deal with its Chinese partner, citing the European Union's Green Deal rather than security issues or cost concerns.
However, Washington has been keen to see Romania loosen ties with China in the spheres of energy and communications. Speaking after the signing of the intergovernmental agreement on October 6, US Ambassador to Romania Adrian Zuckerman said the deal would "unshackle" Romania from China's "malign influence”.