Enel sticks with Russia, Italy nuclear plant plans

EKATERINBURG, Russia - Italy’s biggest utility, Enel SpA, remains committed to plans to invest 2.1 billion euros ($2.8 billion) in Russia by 2013, chairman Piero Gnudi said on Wednesday.

By (Reuters)

Published: Wed 8 Apr 2009, 5:31 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 3:28 AM

“Our business plan foresees investments in upstream gas, and in the generation and sale of power—investments that Enel confirms ... despite the crisis that Russia is facing, along with other countries,” he said during a visit to a power generation plant in Ekaterinburg that Enel acquired in 2008.

In March Enel announced a cut of 12 billion euros in its overall capital expenditure programme for the period 2009-2013. But Russia, where it controls power producer OGK-5, remains one of its key markets.

On Tuesday, Russia and Italy cemented closer political and energy ties as Gazprom spent more than $4 billion to buy back oil assets from oil major Eni at well above market price.

The move advanced the Kremlin’s strategy of bringing key resources back under state control.

Enel Chief Executive Fulvio Conti also confirmed the company’s plans to prepare the construction site for a first nuclear power plant in Italy by 2011.

In February Enel agreed with France’s EDF to build at least four nuclear reactors in Italy using French EPR (European Pressurized water Reactor) technology.

EPR is the best available technology because it has a greater productivity and produces a lower amount of waste, Conti said, reiterating previous comments.

“Enel however operates with all the available technologies Russian and Canadian. The choice (of reactor) is ... dependent on economic and environmental needs.”

Asked about security issues in the wake of the huge earthquake that struck central Italy on Monday, he said: “I take the example of Japan, where 50 percent of energy is produced by nuclear plants that continue to operate even with shocks of a scale six Richter magnitude”.

Monday’s quake had a magnitude of between 5.8 and 6.3.

Italy banned nuclear power in 1987 after a post-Chernobyl referendum but the centre-right government of Silvio Berlusconi is keen to reintroduce it to reduce dependence on natural gas, which currently fuels over 60 percent of power generation.

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