Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. US Housing Market Real Estate Crash The Next Shoe To Drop – Part II - Chris_Vermeulen
2.The Coronavirus Greatest Economic Depression in History? - Nadeem_Walayat
3.US Real Estate Housing Market Crash Is The Next Shoe To Drop - Chris_Vermeulen
4.Coronavirus Stock Market Trend Implications and AI Mega-trend Stocks Buying Levels - Nadeem_Walayat
5. Are Coronavirus Death Statistics Exaggerated? Worse than Seasonal Flu or Not?- Nadeem_Walayat
6.Coronavirus Stock Market Trend Implications, Global Recession and AI Stocks Buying Levels - Nadeem_Walayat
7.US Fourth Turning Accelerating Towards Debt Climax - James_Quinn
8.Dow Stock Market Trend Analysis and Forecast - Nadeem_Walayat
9.Britain's FAKE Coronavirus Death Statistics Exposed - Nadeem_Walayat
10.Commodity Markets Crash Catastrophe Charts - Rambus_Chartology
Last 7 days
Gold’s Major Reversal to Create the “Handle” - 5th July 20
Gold Market Manipulation And The Federal Reserve - 5th July 20
Overclockers UK Custom Build PC Review - 1. Ordering / Stock Issues - 5th July 20
How to Bond With Your Budgie / Parakeet With Morning Song and Dance - 5th July 20
Silver Price Trend Forecast Summer 2020 - 3rd Jul 20
Silver Market Is at a Critical Juncture - 3rd Jul 20
Gold Stocks Breakout Not Confirmed Yet - 3rd Jul 20
Coronavirus Strikes Back. But Force Is Strong With Gold - 3rd Jul 20
Stock Market Russell 2000 Gaps Present Real Targets - 3rd Jul 20
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) Big Pharma Stock for Machine Learning Life Extension Investing - 2nd Jul 20
All Eyes on Markets to Get a Refreshed Outlook - 2nd Jul 20
The Darkening Clouds on the Stock Market S&P 500 Horizon - 2nd Jul 20
US Fourth Turning Reaches Boiling Point as America Bends its Knee - 2nd Jul 20
After 2nd Quarter Economic Carnage, the Quest for Philippine Recovery - 2nd Jul 20
Gold Completes Another Washout Rotation – Here We Go - 2nd Jul 20
Roosevelt 2.0 and ‘here, hold my beer' - 2nd Jul 20
U.S. Dollar: When Almost Everyone Is Bearish... - 1st Jul 20
Politicians Prepare New Money Drops as US Dollar Weakens - 1st Jul 20
Gold Stocks Still Undervalued - 1st Jul 20
High Premiums in Physical Gold Market: Scam or Supply Crisis? - 1st Jul 20
US Stock Markets Enter Parabolic Price Move - 1st Jul 20
In The Year 2025 If Fiat Currency Can Survive - 30th Jun 20
Gold Likes the IMF Predicting a Deeper Recession - 30th Jun 20
Silver Is Still Cheap For Now - 30th Jun 20
More Stock Market Selling Ahead - 30th Jun 20
Trending Ecommerce Sites in 2020 - 30th Jun 20
Stock Market S&P 500 Approaching the Precipice - 29th Jun 20
APPLE Tech Stock for Investing to Profit from the Machine Learning Mega trend - 29th Jun 20
Student / Gamer Custom System Build June 2020 Proving Impossible - Overclockers UK - 29th Jun 20
US Dollar with Ney and Gann Angles - 29th Jun 20
Europe's Banking Sector: When (and Why) the Rout Really Began - 29th Jun 20
Will People Accept Rampant Inflation? Hell, No! - 29th Jun 20
Gold & Silver Begin The Move To New All-Time Highs - 29th Jun 20
US Stock Market Enters Parabolic Price Move – Be Prepared - 29th Jun 20
Meet BlackRock, the New Great Vampire Squid - 28th Jun 20
Stock Market S&P 500 Approaching a Defining Moment - 28th Jun 20
U.S. Long Bond: Let's Review the "Upward Point of Exhaustion" - 27th Jun 20
Gold, Copper and Silver are Must-own Metals - 27th Jun 20
Why People Have Always Held Gold - 27th Jun 20
Crude Oil Price Meets Key Resistance - 27th Jun 20
INTEL x86 Chip Giant Stock Targets Artificial Intelligence and Quantum Computing for 2020's Growth - 25th Jun 20
Gold’s Long-term Turning Point is Here - 25th Jun 20
Hainan’s ASEAN Future and Dark Clouds Over Hong Kong - 25th Jun 20
Silver Price Trend Analysis - 24th Jun 20
A Stealth Stocks Double Dip or Bear Market Has Started - 24th Jun 20
Trillion-dollar US infrastructure plan will draw in plenty of metal - 24th Jun 20
WARNING: The U.S. Banking System ISN’T as Strong as Advertised - 24th Jun 20
All That Glitters When the World Jitters is Probably Gold - 24th Jun 20
Making Sense of Crude Oil Price Narrow Trading Range - 23rd Jun 20
Elon Musk Mocks Nikola Motors as “Dumb.” Is He Right? - 23rd Jun 20
MICROSOFT Transforming from PC Software to Cloud Services AI, Deep Learning Giant - 23rd Jun 20
Stock Market Decline Resumes - 22nd Jun 20
Excellent Silver Seasonal Buying Opportunity Lies Directly Ahead - 22nd Jun 20
Where is the US Dollar trend headed ? - 22nd Jun 20
Most Shoppers have Stopped Following Supermarket Arrows, is Coughing the New Racism? - 22nd Jun 20

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

AI Stocks 2020-2035 15 Year Trend Forecast

Atomic Annie Bites The Uranium Dust

Politics / Nuclear Power Jun 18, 2011 - 11:22 AM GMT

By: Andrew_McKillop

Politics

Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleAnne Lauvergeon, nicknamed 'Atomic Annie' and CEO of France's murky Areva nuclear corporation with activities ranging from uranium mining ventures - and adventures in Africa - to building the world's slowest and most expensive reactor, a French EPR in Finland, was officially ousted by Nicolas Sarkozy on June 16 and will quit Areva by June 29. The decision was in fact long-expected by nuclear business watchers, but the final trigger was her handling of the blow-back in France from the Japanese Fukushima disaster, adding to Areva's near-bankruptcy, its badly handled operations in Africa, USA, France, Japan and Germany, and intense wrangling inside France's ultra-secretive nuclear business with Areva always on the losing side.


Nicolas Sarkozy had originally decided to oust Anne Lauvergeon in 2010, only for the Finnish cost spiral disaster, accusing her of doing nothing to limit seemingly endless cost overruns and construction delays at Areva's first "new generation" reactor in Finland, claimed to be so safe it can withstand a wide-body jet crashing on it - when its finally built. Since Fukushima, and the near-open conflict between France's EDF and Areva, on who takes the blame for rising nuclear electricity production costs and an already admitted 30 percent price rise for French consumers in the next 3 years, and a range of other issues, events accelerated and Sarkozy acted with typical petulance and brutality.

On the plus-side, Lauvergeon only had one seeming trump card for keeping her job: a near-decade of uranium wheeler-dealing, mostly in Africa, generating Areva assets that on first glance can look monstruously attractive, but on second and subsequent study often look plain disastrous. Added to the reactor building cost disaster playing out with enraged Finnish clients, and ballooning costs for Areva's domestic French operations in several domains, from fuel fabrication and reprocessing to nuclear waste handling, it was high time for Atomic Annie to 'tirer sa reverence' and quit.

GIVE ME LOW COST NUKES
President Sarkozy's early rancor towards Lauvergeon had ratcheted up a large notch when in late 2007, with pomp and splendour he nearly sealed a deal with his then-friend Colonel Gaddafi of Libya. This by definition murky deal aimed at selling Gaddafi French nuclear tech, and possibly a nuclear desalination plant, recycling petrodollars away from rivals of Sarkozy and commercial friends of Gadddafi, headed by Silvio Berlusconi of Italy, with close and friendly big ticket deals including a string of concentration camps for Black African migrants trying to reach Europe. Amazing as it may seem to some, Gaddafi likes value for money. He found Sarkozy's nuclear deal to sell Areva reactors to Libya much too expensive and rejected the deal out of hand, possibly sealing Gaddafi's fate in Sarkozy's world of "Anybody who is not my friend is an enemy to crush". Anne Lauvergeon had failed again.

The endless cost overruns for the Finnish reactor had been hurting Sarkozy's image since he had climbed to power, and the lost deal in Libya was taken as a personal affront by France's pint-sized Napoleon: as his spin doctors told him, and he told all pressmen in range, what France needs are low cost nukes. Sarkozy also took a hit at Areva's relations with EDF, saddled with operating all of France's ageing nuclear power plants, by thundering that electricity should be produced by cost-conscious and profitable corporations. Sarkozy cited Tepco of Japan - operator of the Fukushima plant - as a nice model for Areva and EDF to copy and to work with in the USA or anywhere else, for example on a failed set-up in Florida and never concretized Middle Eastern projects. Yet another hit against Atomic Annie was clear: in almost 100 percent of cases, Areva's high-cost reactor building and operating projects never saw the light of day - they were always too expensive.

SWINGING THE DEALS
Another ratchet was clicked by Lauvergeon's inability to seal new and bigger uranium mining deals in Africa, and at least two clicks were added by the claimed Al Qaeda hostage taking in 2010, of French and non-French mining personnel at Areva's Arlit uranium mine in Niger. This event, false flag or not, caused serious damage to officially friendly relations between Sarkozy and the French protected, and probably selected military officers running Niger. The regime was accused by the French press of not protecting white French - causing outrage in the junta - and this blooper was aggravated by Lauvergeon arguing in public that Areva could not afford to protect the whites at the mine. As we know, protecting whites in Africa is a theme close to Sarkozy's so-called African strategy, highlighted by Sarkozy's 2011 Ivory Coast adventure, using military force to replace Laurent Gbagbo with the right man, Alhasan Wattari, the ex-IMF presidential wannabe approved by the USA and Saudi Arabia.

Rarely on media radar, Atomic Annie was on many occasions forced to lend her Areva Gulfstream jet to old friends of Sarkozy, often dating from when he was climbing the greasy pole of French politics. These old friends, Sarkozy told Lauvergeon, were going to fast track new and juicy contracts for uranium. They could for example work their magic on Areva uranium mining assets in Central African Republic, and sell them to China's Guangdong Nuclear Corporation. Annie thought she did all the right things, flying Patrick Balkany into Bangui, the dusty and dangerous capital of the Republic. This former mayor of Levallois-Perret and long-time Sarkozy backstage deal manager was however not enabled, in dealer jargon, to swing the contract with the Republic's dictatorial clique headed by self-proclaimed president Francois Bozizi ( in colloquial French: 'Nice Dick').

Annie had set up new, more complicated deals within the deal, bringing in her own business friends from Kabila's Congo Republic, with uranium mining interests of the most muscular type: state militias supplying uranium from the venerable Shinkolobwe mine, which supplied the Manhattan Project to produce the world's first atom bomb. The mine, officially closed since 2005 because of massive radioactive pollution and environment damage, has large stockpiles to raid and fight over, in uranium's version of Blood Diamonds. To be sure, Atomic Annie's Congo friends have clean fingernails and Gucci suits, but organized crime and state terror is very near the surface in Areva's real African strategy, but Annie had lost her touch and could not deliver the deals. Sarkozy can't stand losers.

The Samsonite briefcases swinging over and under the dealing-and-dinner tables likely did not contain enough euro and dollars to swing the deal. The Central African Republic's uranium reserves, always a little or lot more virtual than real, had not been tweaked enough by Areva to swing any deal, with any player sharp enough to sniff the snakeoil. This deal fell through, and Patrick Balkany flew back to France more than somewhat disgruntled by not getting his own cut on the deal, and happy to blame it all on Lauvergeon, to his old friend Nicolas.

LOW COST CATASTROPHE RESPONSE
To be sure, Lauvergeon's poor handling of blowback inside France to the Fukushima disaster was itself a disaster - in Sarkozy's view - and was the proverbial coup de grace for Atomic Annie. In televised parliament hearings in the first weeks following the March 11 disaster, Lauvergeon was always off-cue. She would wince, and be close to tears at the wrong moment - when the French MOX fuelled No 3 reactor at the site melted down. Later, she was not sufficiently upbeat and smiling about sales of French nuclear disaster-relief equipment to Japan and the supply of free plastic bottles of French mineral water for a small well publicized fraction of the 100 000 Japanese turfed out of the total exclusion zone around the stricken reactors.

In Sarkozy's opinion her handling of the Fukushima disaster was itself a disaster: Areva's share price plunged, and stayed down. Even French, normally so supine and nuclear-worshipping they can be told anything and love it, started talking about nuclear fears as if they were real. For a corporation now increasingly desperate to get more capital by any way, any means due to its near-bankruptcy and avoid the open humiliation of yet another massive bailout of public money, this PR disaster was enough to get her sacked.

France's 5 state-owned television channels and the most slavishly government-friendly papers like 'Le Figaro' made a point of drawing attention to Lauvergeon's high-cost and outdated, that is over-thorough nuclear disaster response proposals, such as Chernobyl-type sarcophage and entombment works costing billions, compared with almost instant and above all cheap ideas floated by competitors. These include rapidly built space frames thrown up round a reactor in meltdown, with the spaces filled by cheap expanded polystyrene panels. Despite the radiation still spewing out with no difficulty, TV viewers will no longer see the tangled wreckage and smoldering ruins inside - so everything is fine ! The Sarko Sarcophage has arrived, but Atomic Annie has left.

Sarkozy has defined nuclear power In Our Time: this will be low cost nuke business or nothing, and Atomic Annie had missed the boat. Luckily for us all, Sarkozy's re-election ship is spinning wildly and taking on more water than the Fukushima reactors took from the tsunami !

By Andrew McKillop

Contact: xtran9@gmail.com

Former chief policy analyst, Division A Policy, DG XVII Energy, European Commission. Andrew McKillop Biographic Highlights

Andrew McKillop has more than 30 years experience in the energy, economic and finance domains. Trained at London UK’s University College, he has had specially long experience of energy policy, project administration and the development and financing of alternate energy. This included his role of in-house Expert on Policy and Programming at the DG XVII-Energy of the European Commission, Director of Information of the OAPEC technology transfer subsidiary, AREC and researcher for UN agencies including the ILO.

© 2011 Copyright Andrew McKillop - All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.


© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

6 Critical Money Making Rules