* TVO says Olkiluoto 3 may start in 2014
* Areva says plans fuel load by end 2012
* Both blame each other for delays (Adds Areva comments)
HELSINKI/PARIS, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Finnish utility firm Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) blamed supplier Areva for further delays to the construction of its Olkiluoto 3 nuclear power plant which may further push back operations to 2014.
The 1,600 megawatt plant Olkiluoto 3, Finland’s fifth nuclear reactor, was originally scheduled to start operations in 2009 but delays and soaring costs meant TVO revised its start date to 2013.
TVO said its plant supplier, a consortium originally formed by France’s Areva and Siemens AG (SIEGn.DE), had informed it of delays in building the reactor’s automation system and in installing piping and electrical systems.
TVO and Areva-Siemens disagree over who is responsible for the delays and have taken a dispute over payment to the International Chamber of Commerce. Siemens has withdrawn from the consortium.
Areva on Wednesday denied the delay was its fault, saying it still plans to load nuclear fuel at Olkiluoto 3 by the end of next year and that the exact timing depends on authorisation from TVO and Finland’s nuclear safety authority.
Areva Chief Executive Luc Oursel said he was surprised by TVO’s announcement.
“We are at this moment working with them on the details of the schedule,” Oursel told reporters. “I am surprised by this premature statement that doesn’t correspond to the spirit of the partnership and cooperation that I wish to see on this construction site.”
On Tuesday, Oursel said it was well positioned to build more nuclear reactors in Finland after learning lessons from delays and cost overruns on existing projects.
TVO and Finnish nuclear consortium Fennovoima are planning to build Finland’s sixth and the seventh reactors in the next decade and are expected to choose contractors in the next few years.
Areva blamed TVO’s “inertia” in validating technical documents before passing them to the Finnish nuclear safety authority. But it has also encountered engineering issues.
The reactor is the first of its kind, with a double containment building, a compartment isolating the molten core, six back-up diesel generators and four back-up cooling systems which Areva says would have withstood the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan’s Fukushima plant in March.
TVO said it wants an updated project schedule.
“The plant supplier is responsible for the time schedule. TVO is continuing to provide support to the plant supplier to complete the project as soon as possible without compromising safety and quality,” TVO’s project director Jouni Silvennoinen said in a statement. (Reporting by Ritsuko Ando in Helsinki and Marie Maitre in Paris; Editing by David Holmes and Mike Nesbit)