Render of the new, twin-reactor nuclear station at Hinkley Point in Somerset, UK (EDF Energy)

Texas giant KBR to manage UK’s Hinkley nuclear build

30 September 2016 | By GCR Staff 2 Comments

Houston-headquartered engineering and construction giant KBR has won a key management role in the high-pressure job of building the UK’s first new nuclear power station in more than 20 years.

KBR said yesterday it had won a reimbursable rates contract for project management services – including site operations management, contract management and materials tracking – for the $23.7bn (£18bn) Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset.

Also yesterday the UK government signed the contract with the scheme’s developers, France’s EDF Energy and China General Nuclear Power Corp (CGN), officially kickstarting the huge project after deciding to go ahead with it earlier this month.

KBR said the award “follows a comprehensive procurement process and demonstrates KBR’s substantial large scale project capability”.

The American firm will be under immense pressure to manage the work smoothly. The European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) station at Hinkley will be one of Europe’s largest construction projects, with a scheduled build period of 10 years.

EDF’s two other EPR projects in Europe – at Flamanville, France and Olkiluoto, Finland – are each billions over budget and years behind schedule. EDF insists that the lessons have been learned. Any cost over-runs at Hinkley will be born by EDF, a two-thirds owner of the station, and CGN, which owns a third.

Around 25,000 people will be employed at the rural site, along with a thousand apprentices.

EDF says the new power station will require some 3 million tonnes of concrete, about 75 times more than was used to build the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. To reduce pressure on local roads, most of this will be delivered by sea, up the Bristol Channel to a temporary jetty.

Feeding the site will be a challenge. EDF says that at peak construction the workforce will be consuming 1.4 million eggs and 1.2 million tea bags a year. A joint venture of six local suppliers, called Somerset Larder, has been formed to keep the site in victuals.

KBR will have to manage a supply chain of more than 100 international suppliers and contractors. It says “substantial activity” will take place at KBR’s major project offices in Paris, Bristol and nearby Bridgwater.

Stuart Bradie, KBR President and CEO, said the award “represents a key stepping stone in line with our strategy to secure long-term enduring contracts and to grow our business stream in the UK”.

The contract is a framework, KBR said, with revenue to be booked into backlog upon receipt of each awarded task order.

According to the UK government, Hinkley Point C will provide 7% of Britain’s electricity needs for 60 years when it comes online in 2026.

The government said UK companies would “benefit from” more than 60% of the project’s work by value.

Image: Render of the new, twin-reactor nuclear station at Hinkley Point in Somerset, UK (EDF Energy)