French banks offer $2bn loan to finance Brazilian nuclear plant

Eletronuclear, the Brazilian state-owned nuclear power utility, has received an offer for EUR1.5bn ($2bn) in financing from a pool of French banks to develop the Angra III nuclear plant in Rio de Janeiro state.
 
According to the Wall Street Journal, the financing is being offered by five banks, led by Societe General and will be repayable over 30 years, said Roberto Cardoso Travassos, Eletronuclear's planning manager.
 
"The interest rates being charged are very competitive, and it's a very interesting offer," Mr. Travassos said. "However, the offer still has to be approved by Brazil's Senate, which should occur during the second half of the year."
 
Angra III is due to begin generating power in 2015 with 1400 MW capacity at a total cost of 9.9bn Brazilian reais ($5.92bn). Much of the equipment has already been bought and is in storage.
 
Brazil's state-owned BNDES bank has already approved a R$6.1bn loan for the project, which will also gain R$890m in financing from Eletronuclear's parent company, Eletrobras, Mr. Travassos said.
 
Eletrobras is Brazil's federally controlling utilities holding company. Separately, Eletronuclear President Othon Luiz Pinheiro da Silva said his company will develop a list of 40 possible sites around the country for construction of new nuclear power generators.
 
"We will present the list of 40 sites, appropriate for construction of new generators, to the Mines and Energy Ministry by mid-year," said Mr. Pinheiro. Currently, Brazil has two nuclear power plants operating in Rio de Janeiro, with a third under construction.
 
Mr. Pinheiro said Energy Minister Edison Lobão, President Dilma Rousseff and other officials will study the list and will approve some or all of the sites for actual construction. Any site approved by the government for nuclear power construction will also have to be approved by a vote of Congress, Mr. Pinheiro noted.
 
"Brazil's Northeast region is a strong candidate for a number of sites," he said. "The region lacks the kind of water resources necessary for development of hydroelectric power. Other parts of Brazil are better suited to the hydroelectric option."
 
Mr. Pinheiro said, "It takes eight to ten years to build a nuclear plant. The first two years go to obtaining environmental licenses." Each plant will have a generating capacity of about 1000 MW and cost about $3bn to build, he said.
 
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