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Before N-bill nod, US power firm to set up shop

delhi Updated: Jul 18, 2010 23:11 IST
Anika Gupta
Anika Gupta
Hindustan Times
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Even as political challenges delay Parliament's passage of a civil nuclear liability bill, the US-based Westinghouse, one of the world's biggest suppliers of nuclear reactors, will open a 10-person office in India by the end of the year.

This is part of its efforts to expand and get a hold in India's growing energy market.

"India's energy needs are huge and we plan to be present," Meena Mutyala, Westinghouse's Vice President and Business Leader for India Strategy, told HT.

"The office will handle new reactors and service operating reactors."

When asked about the civil nuclear liability bill, she said she "wouldn't like to comment on what the Indian Parliament will do."

Westinghouse will be the first major American company to open a separate office for the purpose of selling nuclear reactors in India. US-based GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy has several representatives in India who operate out of an office dedicated to GE's energy division.

Both companies have held preliminary talks with the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) about selling reactors in India, according to officials at DAE.

But American companies, who are forbidden by law from doing business with companies in nations that don't have civil nuclear liability laws, still lag behind their European counterparts, who have no such restrictions.

France-based Areva SA, which has been granted in principle approval to build two 1600 Megawatt reactors in Maharashtra, has a full-fledged office in Mumbai.

Meanwhile, the Russia-based Rosatom Corporation is set to complete the first of the two 1000 MW reactors in Tamil Nadu by the end of this year.

Both Westinghouse and GE Hitachi have also approached Indian companies as partners in the construction process, to slash production costs and to meet a DAE requirement that says reactors must be produced with an increasing amount of indigenous inputs.

Mutyala said the company was also considering a long-term partnership between American engineers and scientists at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre for next-generation nuclear materials.

"India has great technical and R and D resources especially in the nuclear field," she said.