Published on :
The war in Ukraine has highlighted how much Europe, but also the United States, are dependent on Russian uranium to run their nuclear power plants. To overcome a possible shortage, the French Orano, world leader in civil nuclear fuel, plans to increase its production capacity.
The Russian company Rosatom is the world leader in enriched uranium. It represents approximately 30% of supplies to the Western market and supplies both European and American power stations. But since the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine, the risk of a total or partial stoppage of uranium from Russia is very real.
This stop can be triggered by Western countries to sanction Moscow. In retaliation, Russia could also punish its Western customers by reducing its exports as it was able to do for the gas exported to European countries.
To avoid such a scenario, the French Orano plans to increase its production capacity by around 30% at one of its sites in France. Even if Russian uranium is not targeted by sanctions for the moment, the tricolor company is betting on the desire of its Western customers to be less dependent on Russian supplies.
► Also to listen: War in Ukraine: the uranium market is agitated
The American market: an opportunity
Starting with the US market. Very promising with its 100 reactors, it is the largest in the world and uses 20% of the enriched uranium of Russian origin. The Americans, who have no uranium enrichment companies, want to phase out Russian supplies.
The revival of the construction of nuclear power plants around the world also constitutes another opportunity for the future of Orano, which currently has 12% of the world market share.
Opposite, the competition is limited: only three other players are on the market: Urenco, an Anglo-German-Dutch group, the Russian Rosatom, and the Chinese CNNC which only supplies its domestic market.
► To listen also: Iran: Tehran accelerates its nuclear enrichment program