STATE-OWNED power equipment maker Bharat Heavy Electricals (Bhel) may join the consortium of French nuclear technology provider Areva and Pune-based Bharat Forge for its proposed nuclear forging business. Bhel has dropped its plan to set up a separate nuclear forging and casting venture as it could not find a suitable technology provider, said a senior company official.
“For nuclear forgings, we may join Areva and Bharat Forge. These two companies have already signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to form a joint venture. Instead of forming a separate venture, we may join them. We are in talks with them and they are also very keen on Bhel’s participation,” Bhel chairman & managing director K Ravi Kumar told ET. The company plans to invest around Rs 500 crore in its forging and casting business.
Bharat Forge, a major automotive forgings manufacturer, has signed an MoU with Areva in January to set up a JV for rolling out a manufacturing unit for heavy forgings in India.
While the proposed JV of Bharat Forge and Areva will secure supply of heavy forgings, especially stainless steel forgings to customers, Bhel is likely to join the venture to produce nuclear forgings to meet global as well as indigenous requirements. Availability of forgings is a major constraint for manufacturers of equipment in the energy sector.
“Forgings required for nuclear power reactors are presently being imported. Considering that foreign vendors for forgings are heavily booked, it is essential that a suitable integrated melting and forging facility is set up in the country to avoid over dependence on imports,” Mr Kumar said.
Bharat Forge and Areva are presently evaluating various locations in India to set up the new facility. The proposed facility is expected to be operational by 2012. Bhel is in favour of setting up the facility at a coastal location to also meet overseas demand, Mr Kumar said. Exciting opportunities are emerging in the country’s nuclear power sector.