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French feud hits Britain's nuclear reactor plans

The two companies have promised to work together to build European Pressurised Reactors

Britain's plans to use French expertise to build next generation nuclear reactors are now facing uncertainty as relations between EDF, the French electricity giant, and Areva, France's nuclear power station operator, have touched a nadir.

Poor relations between the two French companies have now raised fears whether they would be able to complete the British nuclear energy projects in which they are partners on time and within budget.

EDF's chief executive Henri Proglio wants to raise his company's stake in Areva from 2.4 per cent to 6 per cent. Though the move has the support of French president Nicholas Sarkozy, it is being opposed by Areva CEO Anne Lauvergeon who is said to be desperate to stay out of EDF's reach in France.

At the same time, Proglio is striving to prevent Mitsubishi Heavy Industry from joining Areva's 15 per cent capital hike.

The two companies, have, however, promised to work together to build European Pressurised Reactors worth £10b that are planned to be commisioned in 2019 at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

Adding to the British worries is the fact that projects being developed by EDF and Areva elsewhere in Europe are facing delays and cost overruns amounting to billions of euros.