BHEL to form joint venture company with European nuclear forgings firm

It is reported that Bharat Heavy Electricals is planning a joint venture (JV) with a European firm to manufacture nuclear forgings on a technology transfer basis. The process should be completed by this calendar year.

K Ravi Kumar, of BHEL, said the company expects to grow at 25 per cent to 30 per cent in the current year, despite the current economic slowdown. It has lined up investment plans worth around INR 100,000m for the next three years and the current order booking was INR 450,000m. BHEL's board has already approved INR 48,000m for investing in expansion for the financial year 2009-10.

Last month, BHEL was reported to be in talks with Japanese and European companies for establishing a casting and forgings plant under a JV and was also in the process of entering the field of nuclear reactors. 

Media reports had suggested that the company was talking to the UK-based Sheffield Forgemasters International and Japan's Kobe Steel for a possible JV, to set up a Greenfield manufacturing base in India for nuclear forgings.

In September last year, Kumar said that BHEL would invest INR 1,400 to develop a manufacturing facility for castings and forgings by a 50:50 JV with Heavy Engineering Corporation (HEC) needed by the two units of HEC, Heavy Machine Building Plant and Heavy Machine Tools Plant. It already has a JV with Nuclear Power Corporation of India.

With critical equipment for nuclear plants in acute short supply globally, BHEL and other Indian companies like Larsen and Toubro are planning to set up dedicated manufacturing facilities in India to solve the problem of supply. 

According to experts, India would require nearly 700 to 800 large nuclear forgings weighing 100,000 tonnes for its civilian nuclear plant expansion plan in the next 20 to 25 years.

Currently, the world manufacturing capacity of nuclear forgings is less than half the expected demand and with more countries embracing nuclear energy as a primary source of clean power this shortfall will be more acute and by manufacturing the forgings locally, India will save on precious foreign exchange.

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