French consultants seek nuclear stake
ELECTRICITE de France, consultant at the Daya Bay nuclear power station, has told the Chinese Government it wants to take a stake in the plant's sibling to be built a few kilometres away.
This would be EdF's first equity holding in a Chinese nuclear power station. It is negotiating a stake in three coal-fired stations in Shandong through a joint venture company with China Light and Power (CLP).
The offer by French Minister for Industry, Posts and Telecommunications and Foreign Trade, Gerard Longuet, during his visit to Beijing last month had been received ''positively'', said EdF Far East representative Jean-Christophe Delvallet yesterday.
Mr Longuet saw his Chinese counterpart, Trade Minister Wu Yi, and President Jiang Zemin during his visit.
But sources close to CLP suggest talks about the Hong Kong utility taking a share in the Lingao plant eight kilometres from Daya Bay are stuck because of CLP's reluctance to buy electricity from the station.
''CLP would be ready to buy an equity stake but the Chinese party would like them to buy back a lot of electricity. This would help the Chinese to pay back the debt,'' said the source.
CLP will not need to buy power from Lingao once it comes on stream in 2001, when Black Point power station will be in use.
CLP would only confirm that it was talking to the Chinese authorities. ''We haven't had any detailed talks [about size of stake or electricity sales],'' said representative Dominic Tai Kwan-kuen.
On Saturday, the State Council announced its approval to build four 1,000 megawatt reactors at Lingao - making it more than twice the size of Daya Bay with two 900 MW units.
EdF and CLP are seen as the most likely foreign partners.
The Chinese authorities have yet to decide whether they want foreign participation in the Lingao plant, but the cash-strapped Government is unlikely to be able to fund the estimated US$10 billion (HK$77.20 billion) project alone.
The plant will have three Chinese partners: China National Nuclear Corporation, which will take 45 per cent of the mainland share; the Guangdong provincial government and local power company, which between them will take another 45 per cent; and the Ministry of Electric Power, with 10 per cent.
Any foreign stake would probably be between 25 and 30 per cent, said Mr Delvallet.