GDF Suez Mulls Operating Planned Turkish Nuclear Plant, CEO Says

GDF Suez SA would operate a nuclear plant in Turkey with a local partner should the government choose GDF and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. to develop a project.

The prospects are “favorable” for the Franco-Japanese partners to be picked, Chief Executive Officer Gerard Mestrallet told reporters today in Paris. He was speaking ahead of a meeting between Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe in Ankara tomorrow when a political accord on nuclear energy is expected.

Turkey is planning to develop its second nuclear plant in Sinop on the Black Sea coast, and has also been considering bids from Canada, China, Japan and South Korea. Russia is to build Turkey’s first plant at Akkuyu on the Mediterranean. Tomorrow’s agreement would be one of the first major nuclear deals since the atomic disaster at Fukushima in 2011.

The Turkish reactor is still “years away” from construction, Mestrallet said today. The country has to create a nuclear safety authority that will give building permits.

The Franco-Japanese bid is being led by Mitsubishi Heavy, which together with Areva SA, the French reactor builder, has developed an 1,100-megawatt model called the Atmea. The unit is a smaller, less-expensive version of the EPR, which is being built by Electricite de France SA in Normandy and Areva in Finland. Both projects are behind schedule and over budget.

“We are confident in the Atmea, Mestrallet said. ‘‘We wanted to build one in France.’’ The Atmea has never been built anywhere after a project in the Rhone Valley was canceled.

The chief executive declined to provide specifics about any potential Turkish partners in the project or how long the utility could take before committing to development.

GDF Suez, which operates seven nuclear reactors in Belgium through its Electrabel SA unit, has long said it wants to push ahead with new projects outside France in countries such as the U.K. and possibly Brazil.

Since the meltdown of reactors after an earthquake and tsunami struck Japan two years ago, French developers of nuclear technology have failed to win any orders. ‘‘This is a positive sign,’’ that countries are willing the keep nuclear in their future energy mix, Mestrallet said.

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