French energy giant EDF to exit US nuclear energy market

French energy giant, Électricité de France (EDF) is exiting from the nuclear energy business in the US, due to the abundant supply of cheap shale gas that has drastically altered the energy scenario in the country.

Speaking at a news conference, Henri Proglio, CEO of EDF said that shale gas has completely reshaped the landscape of electric power generation in the US in favour of gas.

The dramatic fall of US gas prices has made nuclear energy uncompetitive compared to all other forms of energy, he added.

US energy companies have been breaking records in shale gas production, which has created an abundant supply in the North American market.

According to BP, 2012 saw the largest single-year increase in US oil production ever recorded, and the biggest growth in natural gas production, much of it due to its shale revolution.

While gas prices had risen 35 per cent in Europe, thgey have plunged by 66 per cent in the US.

An initial shale gas boom in US reduced prices dramatically from about $13.50 per metric cubic foot (mcf) in 2008 to $2 per mcf last year.

EDF, the world's largest nuclear operator, with 58 reactors, had early this year withdrawn its opposition to Chicago-based Exelon's $7.42-billion takeover of Constellation Energy, in which it held a 7.2-per cent stake.

The Paris-based company had earlier opposed the Exelon-Constellation deal on the grounds that the merger would cost Constellation Energy Nuclear Group, the nuclear joint venture, autonomy and control over its two nuclear reactors in Maryland.

With 2012 sales of €65.3 billion, EDF, one of the leaders in the European energy market, is an integrated energy company active in all areas of the business, generation, transmission, distribution, energy supply and trading.

It is the leading electricity producer in Europe. In France, it operates nuclear and hydraulic production facilities and claims that 96.5 per cent of the electricity output is CO2-free.

The company supplies energy and services to approximately 27.9 million customers in France.