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Atkins Seeks Atomic Work, Energy Becomes Fastest-Growing Market

Nov. 25 (Bloomberg) -- WS Atkins Plc, the U.K.’s biggest engineering-design company, will see its most rapid growth from energy in the coming years as more counties including the U.K. build nuclear power stations.

About 30 countries globally, including the U.K., nations in the Middle East and across Europe, are likely to build nuclear power plants to meet carbon reduction commitments, Chief Finance Officer Heath Drewett said.

“The energy market is the fastest growing,” Drewett said on a conference call with journalists today. Expansion in the area will be led by training and development, he said. The company has about 18,000 engineers, of whom about 1,000 currently work in energy.

Britain’s coalition government is rolling back energy deregulation as it seeks to reduce carbon emissions and replace aging power plants. The measures being considered are intended to protect investors from energy market volatility.

Atkins works on decommissioning and maintenance of Britain’s current nuclear plants, Drewett said. As new building starts, Atkins would help with planning the location of nuclear power plants, studying their likely environmental impact and designing parts of the plants, with government and utilities.

The reactors could be built and delivering electricity as soon as 2018 and because of a long building process, the company is “getting in there at the early stages, working with the government and the utilities as they plan,” he said.

Electricite de France SA wants to complete the first of four new reactors at Hinkley Point in southwest England by 2018. The Paris-based company acquired the U.K.’s existing fleet of nuclear plants in 2008 before selling a 20 percent stake to Centrica Plc, the country’s largest energy supplier.

“We have our own nuclear academy and we’re rolling a number of our engineers through an in-house training program and we’re working with a number of universities,” the executive said. “The reality is there are very few engineers, certainly in our home markets, who have these skills.”

Atkins said today net income for the six months ended Sept. 30 fell to 29.4 million pounds ($46 million) from 33.9 million pounds.

To contact the reporter on this story: Howard Mustoe in London at hmustoe@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Colin Keatinge at ckeatinge@bloomberg.net

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