Russian bidder for Czech nuclear tender rules out Areva link

PRAGUE, Oct 10 (Reuters) - The Russian bidder for thecontract to enlarge Czech CEZ's Temelin nuclearpower plant on Wednesday ruled out linking its bid with Frenchcompany Areva , which was disqualified from the tenderlast week.

Media had reported that Rosatom, helping to lead aRussian-Czech consortium, could partner Areva in the tender thatwill at least double the 2,000 MW plant's size and is estimatedto be worth more than $10 billion.

CEZ announced it had thrown out the French group's bid onFriday for not meeting "crucial requirements". The Czech utilitydeclined to detail reasons for the disqualification.

Areva's exit leaves Toshiba's U.S. unitWestinghouse and Russia's Atomstroyexport, a Rosatom unit, asthe only bidders, pending an appeal by the French group.

"It is not even legally possible, because the conditions ofthe tender do not allow cooperation with the individualbidders," said Kirill Komarov, deputy director general ofRosatom, told reporters.

Komarov said Atomstroyexport could possibly use Areva as asubcontractor later, but he added that option would be "highlyhypothetical", as the suppliers list is a part of the bid,making changes difficult.

The Czech nuclear energy push has run into opposition fromneighbouring Austria and Germany, but is the cornerstone of agovernment drive to secure its energy future.

Russia is already a major oil, gas and nuclear fuel supplierfor the ex-Soviet nation of 10.5 million, giving CEZ a starkchoice between east and west in the tender. A winner should bepicked by the end of next year.

Temelin, the biggest energy source in a country wherenuclear power meets a third of annual electricity needs,consists of two Russian-type units that were refurbished withWestinghouse technology before first going into operation in2000 and 2003.

The units are run with Russian fuel after switching fromU.S. fuel.

(Reporting by Jan Korselt, editing by William Hardy)

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