Cumbria Nuclear Round Up

Reblog from NuExec Consulting.
I really don’t know where to begin this week. So much has happened in the industry over the past 2 weeks, but also so much has happened over the last 2 days for NuExec. Last night Lisa and I were totally shocked and humbled to win BECBC Business Awards Business Start Up/ Entrepreneur of the Year Award. The award means so very much to us especially as today we have been trading for 1 year. I’m not going to go on about it as there is lots of nuclear news to cover, but I do want to say that we are so very grateful to all of you who have supported us in our journey. I still can’t believe that 2 girls from Cumbria with a passion and a dream have had it realised! – Thank You!

Moving on, as we have an awful lot to cover with all the nuclear news that has happened over the past 2 weeks.

So the top news from last week (remember this is a 2 week blog) was that Hitachi had purchased Horizon Nuclear Power for £696 Million from Eon and RWE complete with 90 staff and rights to land at 2 current nuclear sites, Wylfa and Oldbury. It is rumoured that Hitachi will be partnering with SNC Lavalin (who apparently have been facing bribery charges in securing contracts overseas), Rolls Royce and Babcock – who have signed memorandums of understanding to join the consortium. What I found most interesting was that Hitachi would not be choosing between Areva EPR and Westinghouse AP1000 but instead would be using its own Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) that it can offer through its joint venture arrangement with General Electric (GE). The Subsidiary Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy will manage the engineering and manufacturing of the Horizon ABWRs. However the ABWR design remains to be approved for use in the UK and must go through the Generic Design Approval process of the ONR which could take 4 years.

So this news led me to have 2 questions firstly: Will NuGen now look at ABWR reactors? And Secondly have the supply chain built a capability to service PWR’s and is there now a gap and need to change skills?

Also last week was an article about a nuclear deal which will see millions of pounds’ worth of community benefit pouring into the area. The deal includes sending large volumes of highly radioactive materials to Sellafield from Scotland. I wonder if this deal is still in the pipeline after Wednesdays article on the audit at Sellafield which I will talk about later. In my opinion this community benefit is cutely timed with the council speaking about the £2.5 Million cuts. There were some interesting figures in the article which reported that the nuclear industry puts more than £11 Million directly into West Cumbria every year.

As mentioned above on Wednesday it hit the news that: An “intolerable risk” is being posed by hazardous waste stored in run-down buildings at Sellafield nuclear plant, a watchdog has found.

The National Audit Office (NAO) also said that for 50 years, the operators of the Cumbria installation failed to develop a long-term plan for waste.

Costs of plant-decommissioning has also spiralled out of control, it said.

It reported that Sellafield is storing enough high and intermediate level radioactive waste to fill 27 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

The NAO report concluded that progress in 12 of the 14 major buildings and equipment projects considered “critical” for reducing risk, which range in cost from £21m to £1.3bn, also failed to achieve what they were supposed to and had not provided good value for money.

I really hope that Sellafield and the NDA will take this problem to the supply chain and allow them to use their innovative ideas and smart technology to make nuclear clean up happen. I was encouraged last night at the BECBC Awards when Sean Balmer who is the BECBC Chair and also the Commercial Director of NDA said how it had been a difficult week with the results of the audit but was encouraged by how the companies of Cumbria had rallied together with their support. Let’s hope we can work together with the NDA to improve the current situation.

Wednesday was also a very interesting day as it was the monthly BECBC meeting at which NuGen were speaking. I have to say I was impressed with what they had to say. They finally 2 weeks ago started work on site which they are delighted about. The work that they have started is site assessment, the surface works has been contracted to Babcock’s local office here in Cumbria. The assessments will uncover which parts of the land are best suited for construction.

NuGen also thought it important to point out that although GDF Suez and Iberdrola employ more than 250,000 employees worldwide, 18000 in the UK, they are still only a company of 40. They wanted to reassure the supply chain that they are making progress and they have 2 offices operational, have contactors appointed, are holding regular stakeholder dialogue, have early planning application approved and regulatory nuclear interface protocol signed.

They are currently progressing with their technology choice. I asked the question regarding whether they were going to consider Hitachi’s ABWR reactor but they were quite clear that they will be choosing one of the PWR’s either the Westinghouse AP1000 or Areva EPR.

With regard to supply chain first steps they are still developing a website registration portal and they are making sure the technology is right. They are scoping national, regional and local events form 2013 with them initially and predominantly being Cumbria based.

I was really pleased to see they had used another local company, Marron Landscapes to clear areas to the site for access. It really seems they are sticking to their word on local company usage, which is so refreshing with the current lack of business going to the local supply chain.

One thing they were really clear on, which is a point we all need to keep in mind, is an investment decision by the companies will not be made until 2015. Both Iberdrolla and GDF Suez are committed to the moorside project but will only progress if it is financially viable and beneficial to do so. We have to remember like us they are commercial companies that need to make money. Much of the decision will ride on the government energy bill which is due out next week which will provide clarity to newbuild investors regarding their commitment and rate of return for investors.

So timeline wise 2015 will see investment decision with a new reactor being commissioned in 2023 and online by 2025. However the next 3 years are critical and NuGen need to build a robust case into why the partner companies should invest.

On Wednesday night I attended the NIA Ice breaker at the Trout Hotel, followed by the decommissioning group on Thursday. I was really impressed with numbers that attended and although the majority of people I knew, I met some new people who I haven’t met before or who I only communicate through LinkedIn with. I always love chatting with people in industry and picking up all the views and nuclear gossip.

There is certainly a strong feeling of frustration in the supply chain regarding the lack of work coming through. People are certainly feeling that the large organisations not only aren’t putting work out but they aren’t communicating with the supply chain. Companies are trying to engage and they are finding the people they are speaking to are obstructive rather than embracing. Now I thought it was just me as a recruiter that had that issue but evidently not. I do find it so frustrating that companies do not realise the benefit in at least speaking to these companies and engaging can have. Even if they don’t think they can use their service or product taking the time to speak to the company and building a relationship is all the supply chain is asking for. At the Decommissioning group entitled “Helping SME’s engage with Tier 2/3 contractors to deliver value for Clients” Amec did a talk called: Energising our supply chain. Let’s just say the chap got a bit of a hard time and seemed oblivious to the views voiced by one person which echoed that of the whole Cumbrian supply chain which could be seen in all the nodding heads. They may say they have all these wonderful opportunities for the supply chain – but hey start speaking to them. 4 Years I have been trying to engage with Amec and guess what??? They have never even taken the time to speak to me. But let’s not forget it isn’t just Amec that is the guilty party!

There are lots of other things that I could speak on but I am conscious this has been a long one. I am continued to be blown away by the number of you who read my blog, it is so encouraging. Of course though, it would be great to grow the numbers, so if you feel it is an enjoyable and informative blog please send the link to a few of your colleagues and share the word!

Finally I want to say congratulations to all of the winners from last night at the BECBC Awards I am so proud to be part of such an amazing, innovative, passionate supply chain.

As always NuExec have many vacancies which are visible on our website: http://www.nuexecconsulting.co.uk

Until next time…..

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