Need clarity on liability, but it won’t be dealbreaker: Areva

Need clarity on liability, but it won’t be dealbreaker: Areva

New Delhi: French company Areva, which signed a €7 billion deal with India for setting up atomic power plants and supply of uranium, on Monday said it wanted more clarity on liability laws here but asserted the issue would not be a “deal breaker".

“It is very important for us to know the rules of implementation (of the liability law)... and the responsibility of the suppliers comes a lot of years after the start of a nuclear power plant," Anne Lauvergeon, chief executive officer of Areva, told reporters here.

Areva, in partnership with Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), is planning to build six nuclear power plants of 1650 MW each at Jaitapur in Maharashtra.

Agreements for the construction of the first two European Pressurised Reactors (EPR) were signed between Areva and NPCIL on the sidelines of the talks Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had with visiting French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Asked whether India’s liability law would prove to be a deal breaker, Lauvergeon replied in the negative.

“It is not a deal breaker," she said, adding that Areva was looking forward to start the first nuclear power plant at Jaitapur in 2018.

The EPR, developed by Areva, has a 60-year life and the French company has assured India on the supply of uranium fuel for the lifetime of the reactor.

“No matter whatever happens, we are going to deliver uranium to NPCIL for lifetime (of the reactor)... whatever the bilateral or political situation there may be," Lauvergeon said.

She also said Areva was open to Indian investments in its uranium mines spread across the globe. Areva owns uranium mines in several countries including Canada, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Niger, Namibia and Australia.

Lauvergeon said there were still some pending issues with NPCIL on financing scheme for the deal and finalising the banks for this purpose.

“We also need to do some finetuning on the interest rates for the deal," she said.

Regarding work on the remaining four EPRs at Jaitapur, she said the pace of the project has to be decided by the NPCIL but she would like work to begin on a new reactor every one or two years.

Lauvergeon said she would like the EPR to evolve as “an Indian reactor and not as a foreign technology".