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Is The UK’s Go-Ahead To The US$24B Hinkley Point Close?

The UK government is set to announce by the end of this week that it is giving its consent to the Hinkley Point project, with a new contract to address concerns over giving China access to nuclear power infrastructure, ITV News reported on Wednesday, but an cabinet official later told Bloomberg that the government has yet to decide whether to proceed with the plan.

At the end of July, the UK Prime Minister Theresa May told France’s President Francois Hollande that she would take more time to review the Hinkley Point project. The board of French company EDF, the project’s builder, had just given the go-ahead to this controversial plan, with the directors split on the advisability of the project. This reluctant approval, already delayed, was to have been the last hurdle prior to the start of construction.

Shortly after the UK’s decision to review the US$24 billion (18 billion pound) project, news broke that the Chinese firm involved in Hinkley Point’s construction, CGN, was under investigation in the United States for espionage. The Chinese company and engineering advisor Szuhsiung Ho were indicted on charges of industrial espionage in the United States related to alleged attempts to steal nuclear secrets to aid the Chinese nuclear energy program.

This was a major concern for the UK prime minister, who said at a press conference on the sidelines of the G20 summit in China on September 5 that “a decision about Hinkley will be taken later this month”.

According to ITV News today, May had to speak on the phone with Hollande on Monday afternoon, but the UK’s Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Greg Clark, had raised some last-minute questions that prompted the cabinet to postpone the phone call with Hollande and delay the announcement that Hinkley Point was thumbs-up to go.

According to Bloomberg, however, an aide to the UK prime minister who had spoken on condition of anonymity said that no decision had been made yet.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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