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18 Nov, 2008 04:10

Tvel pushes Russian nuclear energy with Slovak deal

Russia's nuclear industry has boosted its influence in the heart of Europe following a deal to supply more than half of Slovakia's electricity. The EU electricity generator says Russian nuclear fuel's now not just cheaper but safer than Western rivals.

Russian nuclear fuel leader Tvel beat off America's Westinghouse in the $630 million deal which will supply Slovakia with 57% of its electricity.

Paolo Ruzzini, CEO of Slovanske Elektrarne said Tvel was cheaper and safer than the US offer.

“All the items – first of all the safety level, the reliability that we have built up and of course the competitiveness of the overall process.”

Tvel's the world number three producer after Westinghouse and Areva. It already makes fuel here for the French giant. Yury Olenin, President of Tvel says as the nuclear industry grows, the number of players will fall. 

“Synergies are being forced by the investment required for such high-tech development. Soon there'll be just a few big players, and they'll work together.”

Nuclear's star is on the rise. The Slovakian side tipped it to almost double to a quarter of Europe's energy mix over the next 12 years. On Monday India said Russia was favourite to build its 2 new reactors.

Tvel already supplies England, Germany and China as well as Iran. The firm complains privately that's despite French-lobbied restrictions on EU uranium imports.

This is uranium dioxide, the highly toxic core of Russian nuclear success. Experts say it's one of the few hi-tech sectors where Russia is truly world-class. Tvel's target now is to raise global market share from 17% to 25% by 2020.