Bouygues Gets $1.8 Billion Hinkley Nuclear Plant Contract

Bouygues SA won a construction contract worth at least 1.7 billion euros ($1.8 billion) for the controversial Hinkley Point nuclear plant in the U.K. that will use the same technology as over-budget and delayed projects in France and Finland.

Bouygues will work with U.K. firm Laing O’Rourke on construction of the buildings that will house the two nuclear reactors, the Paris-based company said in a statement Wednesday.

The contract is from French state-controlled utility Electricite de France SA, which got approval in September to build Hinkley Point, an 18-billion-pound ($22 billion) nuclear plant on England’s western coast that will be the most expensive ever built. EDF says lessons learned from 4 similar reactors built in France, the U.K., and China will allow it to complete the plant in 2025, with an annual investment return of about 9 percent after tax over its 60-year lifespan.

The U.K. contract reflects Bouygues’ experience in nuclear civil engineering, the company said. Bouygues shares rose 0.7 percent to 34.10 euros at 12:02 p.m. in Paris.

The announcement is another sign that the project, more than a decade in the making, is progressing. In September, French nuclear group Areva SA, which is being bailed out by the French government, signed contracts worth more than 5 billion euros to provide equipment and nuclear fuel for the two reactors to be built at Hinkley Point.

The EPR technology to be used at Hinkley is the same that’s being used in projects in Flamanville, France, and in Finland that have run over-budget and behind schedule.

At Flamanville, Bouygues had to correct flaws in some walls and other parts of the plant, with Chief Executive Officer Martin Bouygues calling the model “extremely complex” to build, notably because the quantity of steel used made the pouring of concrete difficult.

France’s atomic safety watchdog temporarily halted construction at the plant in 2008 due to problems with the quality of the concrete reinforcement used. Bouygues first started digging at that site in September, 2006 and the reactor is now scheduled to start up in the fourth quarter of 2018, six years behind schedule and for a total cost that has tripled to 10.5 billion euros.

In Finland, Areva has lost 5.5 billion euros and the plant is almost a decade late.

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