France faces a decade-long struggle to upgrade its nuclear power plants, but for Natacha Piot, whose firm makes metal pipe supports for reactors, there’s little visibility beyond Christmas. She’s chief executive officer of one of the dozens of subcontractors engaged in a 48 billion-euro ($56.4 billion) project to extend the life of Electricite de France SA’s aging atomic plants. Like several of her peers, Piot is critical of how the state-run utility is managing the process. “I can’t afford to hire because we don’t know what we’ll have to do in a month,” said Piot, CEO of CITA Production, based near the Saone River, north of the vineyards of Burgundy. “We’re overloaded until Christmas, but it’s a total haze for 2018. We’re in a permanent fog.” EDF has cut earnings forecasts as longer-than-planned maintenance and refueling halts at its 58 reactors were compounded by safety checks demanded by the nation’s nuclear watchdog. That means the utility expects nuclear-power generation to barely rebound this year, after a shortage of skilled workers at its contractors cut output by 7.9 percent to 384 terawatt-hours in 2016. EDF will probably miss its nuclear output goals in 2017 and 2018, lowering earnings to the bottom of the company’s latest forecasts, Olly Jeffery, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, wrote in a Dec. 6 note. “Delays could slip into 2019 as well,” he said. As EDF wrestles to prolong the lifespan of reactors by at least an extra decade, CITA Production, the firm founded by Piot’s father in 1964, isn’t the only subcontractor struggling to keep up with the utility’s fast-changing requirements.
Bloomberg 13th Dec 2017 read more »