No gas trading hubs, such as NBP or TTF, exist in the southern and eastern parts of Europe. The area has not been able yet to grasp the concept of a liquid market where long-term contracted gas is complemented by short-term and spot deals—and the traditionally domineering role of Gazprom is partially to blame for this. Perhaps the situation may change sooner than anyone expected. Encouraging signals are coming from at least two places: Ukraine and Bulgaria. For reasons that have nothing to do with economics, Gazprom has done all it could to erode its own role in Ukraine, demolish its largest market niche in Europe, and push the Ukrainians away from Russia toward western Europe. Disenchanted with the bullying attitude of the Russian gas giant, this ex-Soviet nation is seeking integration with the EU energy networks, and the first steps have been taken in that direction. Ukraine’s vast underground gas storage facilities, which Gazprom has been using for years, may become an integral part of the EU grid. Germany’s RWE reportedly wants to rent some room there to host gas reserves to cover wintertime peak demand. The facilities are a great bargaining chip for the Ukrainians in their talks on economic association with the EU, but a cumbersome and costly liability in uneven relations with Moscow. In the final run, if other European energy companies follow RWE, the gas storage and transportation network of Ukraine may get integrated into the EU gas sector, and the Europeans would start buying gas on the Russian - Ukrainian border rather than on the western border of Ukraine. In Bulgaria, Gazprom’s eagerness in building the South Stream pipeline is also a harbinger of a new gas distribution pattern—and this pattern is not what Moscow wants it to be. The Bulgarians are telling Gazprom they are prepared to host a segment of the South Stream project but the pipeline will have to obey the EU rules according to the Third Energy Package. The big Bulgarian idea, as a government official of that country admitted at an international conference in Rotterdam a couple of years ago, is to create a distribution and trading hub for southeastern Europe. Gas would enter the Bulgarian grid from several sources: the existing pipeline from Russia, plus South Stream, plus an interconnector from Turkey with Caspian and Middle Eastern supply—and then the new hub would distribute it to other countries in the area. Ideally, the Bulgarians hope, this arrangement can help them set up something like a regional NBP or TTF… Both prospects are still vague ideas, and a lot depends on the way the Russian supplier is going to behave. So far, the attitude of Moscow has not demonstrated any signs of softening. The lack of flexibility in relations with customers results not only in shrinking market niches. It leads to potentially dramatic changes of market patterns. Mikhail Krutikhin Published with the kind permission of RusEnergy. Mikhail Krutikhin is with RusEnergy, an independent privately-run company established in 2000 by a group of Russian experts with a long experience in consulting and publishing business. Based in Moscow, it specializes in monitoring, analysis and consulting on oil and gas industry of Russia, Central Asia, Azerbaijan and Ukraine.
RWE Dea UK announced that the platform D18a-A was successfully installed on the Orca field, reads a note released on Monday. The platform is located in the Dutch sector, 500 metres from the UK sector. “The project partnership operated by GDF SUEZ E&P Nederland B.V., of which RWE Dea UK is part, completed the installation of the platform to develop the Orca gas field in the Southern North Sea. The first development well was spudded. First production from Orca is expected late 2013/early 2014,” reads the note. According to the press release, the platform is designed to produce natural gas from up to six wells with a maximum production capacity of 2.4 million normal cubic metres per day. “We are very pleased to have achieved this major milestone in the development of the Orca field… The project is on track to provide an important contribution to reach our growth targets in the United Kingdom,” said René Pawel, Managing Director of RWE Dea UK. The company wrote that the produced gas will be exported via the existing main trunkline, operated by Noordgastransport B.V., to Uithuizen in the Netherlands. Also on Monday, Reuters wrote that the German utility RWE has “launched a new savings programme to cope with loss-making power plants and low wholesale power prices.” RWE Dea AG, headquartered in Hamburg, is an international company operating in the field of exploration and production of natural gas and crude oil. RWE Dea is part of the RWE Group, one of Europe’s largest energy utilities.
British Gas, the biggest energy supplier in the UK, unveiled an 11% increase in profit as campaigners warn of rising fuel povertyThe acrimonious debate over soaring energy bills and mounting fuel poverty reignited when British Gas – the biggest energy supplier in the UK – unveiled an 11% increase in profits and its parent group, Centrica, promised a £1.3bn handout to its shareholders just months after pushing through an increase in household bills.Campaign groups warned that 160,000 children had been dragged into fuel poverty by the actions of the big six energy suppliers since 2010, while trade union bosses accused energy chiefs of "creaming off" profits. Dividends of more than £3.5bn have now been paid out by Centrica over the last five years. Anger was exacerbated by confirmation that Phil Bentley, British Gas's managing director, will stand down with a combined pay and pension package worth more than £10m.British Gas imposed a 6% price rise last November, adding £80 to the average annual gas and electricity bill for the 8.4 million households it serves.Centrica argued that the average profit figure of £50 per British Gas household represented a profit margin of only 5%, which it said was a similar return to supermarkets.The company said the profits had allowed the energy group to invest £50bn to secure new wholesale gas supplies from countries such as Norway and Russia."It's important that Centrica makes a fair and reasonable return so that we can continue to make our contribution to society and to invest," said Sam Laidlaw, the chief executive of Centrica. "Last year we incurred a tax charge of over £1bn and invested over £2bn to secure new sources of energy for the UK, well in excess of our profits."But the campaign group Fuel Poverty Action warned that the British Gas profit of more than £600m would send a "shiver down the spine" of customers, with some facing the choice between heating and eating due to recent price hikes."These profits were made on the back of forcing millions into fuel poverty and from a 'dash for gas' that will send bills even higher as well as contributing to rising food prices through climate change," said the campaign's spokesman, James Granger. "People are angry and want the alternative to the big six's monopoly: cheaper, clean, renewable energy under the control of communities, not greedy energy tycoons."Centrica reported operating profits of £2.7bn – up 14% – and announced plans to hand an additional £500m to shareholders this year by buying back, and then cancelling, its own shares. The process should increase the share price.Nick Luff, the finance director, said it was fair to give back cash to investors because Centrica had raised £2bn from them in 2008 to invest in new nuclear power stations. It has now dropped those plans.He urged customers to "take action" by installing more efficient boilers, improving insulation and utilising new technology such as smart meters.The Energy Bill Revolution, a campaign group formed by charities including Barnardo's plus old age and disability groups, warned that an extra 160,000 children had been forced to live in homes in fuel poverty over the last two years.The organisation warned that a further 25% increase in power bills could double the total number of people affected from 1.6 million to 3.2 million. It called on the prime minister to end the "growing scandal" of cold homes by using a carbon tax to make all UK homes super energy efficient.Meanwhile Dave Prentis, general secretary of the Unison union, said it was a scandal that so many children were now living in freezing homes while shareholders and directors were "creaming" off profits."The rise in fuel poverty is a blight on this country with hundreds and thousands of people joining the growing numbers now spending more than 10% of household income on energy costs. Without action we are sleepwalking into a very cold and dark future," he warned.The issue of soaring energy bills combined with fines for doorstep mis-selling and other abuses by the gas and electricity suppliers has triggered a raft of initiatives by the industry regulator, Ofgem, but campaigners and even politicians believe they are not nearly tough enough. The Labour party has said it will scrap Ofgem while a report by the all-party House of Commons energy and climate change select committee in December attacked the regulator's timidity. "We find it unsatisfactory that Ofgem should be so hesitant about launching preliminary investigations into potentially anti-competitive behaviour," it said.The general climate of unease has not been helped by a Financial Services Authority inquiry into concerns about irregular trading in the wholesale gas market. Centrica and the other large energy companies such as RWE npower and E.ON have all instigated their own internal inquiries and say they are convinced none of their traders are at fault.Bentley, the 54-year-old former BP executive who has been at the centre of previous rows over the scale of big six energy company earnings, plans to leave British Gas by the end of the year and is apparently hoping to become a chief executive elsewhere. But it was also revealed that the energy boss will be able to retire in four years time with an annual pension of £225,000 after working for the company for little over 12 years.A statement from Centrica paid tribute to his role in "profit improvement".It said: "In his most recent role he [Bentley] has been instrumental in restructuring, reinvigorating and materially improving the performance of the business by raising customer service standards, lowering costs, increasing productivity and creating significant value from profit improvement."CentricaUtilitiesGasCommoditiesHousehold billsConsumer affairsTerry Macalisterguardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds
Ищите таланты в сети ("WirtschaftsWoche Heute", Германия) Марсель Берндт (Marcel Berndt) © Fotolia, Sergej Khackimullin Поиск работы все чаще осуществляется во всемирной сети, отделы кадров уже не могут обойтись без дорогостоящих сайтов, направленных на создание карьеры. Проведенное исследование свидетельствует в целом о хорошей работе немецких фирм, однако нередко их информация не доходит до людей, занятых поисками работы. Академия соискателей на домашней странице энергетического концерна RWE вполне способна выполнять функцию консультационного портала для оказания посреднических услуг в трудоустройстве. Академия дает соискателям советы относительно презентации, прохождения собеседования, а также предоставляет бесплатные электронные книги по таким темам, как управление конфликтами, риторика и находчивость. Все могут получить от этого пользу – как желающие устроиться на работу в концерн RWE, так и те, кто хотел бы получить место в других компаниях. «Это сделано очень профессионально и выходит далеко за рамки того, что мы обычно ожидаем от карьерной домашней страницы предприятия», - отмечает генеральный директор расположенной в Кельне консалтинговой фирмы в области коммуникаций NetFederation Кристиан Беренс (Christian Berens). Ему положено это знать. Дело в том, что его компания провела изучение карьерных сайтов 100 немецких предприятий. В результате концерн RWE оказался на 13 месте. В целом проведенное исследование свидетельствует о хорошей работе немецких фирм. Это особенно важно в те периоды, когда ощущается нехватка квалифицированных кадров, говорит Беренс. «О моей отрасли, об ИТ и коммуникации, я могу сказать, что сейчас исключительно сложно найти квалифицированного специалиста, - продолжает он. – Теперь весь мир сидит в интернете, и все получают там информацию, и поэтому работодатели также должны там присутствовать». Согласно проведенному исследованию, лучший карьерный сайт принадлежит компании Otto Group. «Наш карьерный сайт – это сердцевина нашей коммуникационной работы по поиску сотрудников, а также средство, с помощью которого с нами знакомится большинство соискателей. Поэтому этот портал является важным как для нас, так и для внешнего восприятия нашей компании», - подчеркивает пресс-секретарь фирмы Дженнифер Буххольц (Jennifer Buchholz). Интернет-сайт победителя сделан очень наглядно, и он имеет также дополнительные страницы для различных целевых групп, в том числе для имеющих опыт работы, для новичков, для студентов и школьников. На видном месте находится шаблон поиска, советы по трудоустройству, а также интервью, в которых сотрудники компании рассказывают о себе. 69% опрошенных предприятий в своей коммуникационной работе в качестве работодателей делают ставку на собственные кадры. Так, например, сотрудники химического концерна Bayer (шестое место) рассказывают на карьерном сайте в Facebook о своей работе и своих проектах. «Я считаю, что лучшей рекламой предприятия являются его собственные сотрудники», - подчеркивает глава компании NetFederation Кристиан Беренс. Отделы кадров не уделяют должного внимания мобильным сетям В то же время компании упускают возможность напрямую рекламировать себя – независимо от коммуникации с собственными сотрудниками (также 69%). «Предприятия столь же активно должны работать с теми, кто занимается своим трудоустройством. Если заинтересованный человек знает, что ему может предложить предприятие, то тогда он сам будет проявлять активность, - считает Беренс. – Неплохо использует существующие возможности компания Fresenius». Это занявшее четвертое место предприятие, работающее в области здравоохранения, перечисляет на своем сайте все смежные компании, и при этом предоставляется информация о каждой из них, об их особенностях, а также о предоставляемых ими шансах. Таким образом, соискатели могут оценить все дочерние компании. «После этого им становится ясно, почему именно в этой фирме они должны попробовать получить работу», - подчеркивает Беренс. Как показывает проведенное исследование, улучшения необходимы в первую очередь в работе по предоставлению услуг. Только половина предприятий дают советы тем, кто занят поиском работы. Хотя 83% компаний предоставляют возможность соискателям обратиться к ним в режиме онлайн, только около половины из них знают, как функционирует этот инструмент трудоустройства. Беренс исходит из того, что поиск работы в режиме онлайн и дальше будет развиваться. «Теперь уже нельзя закрыть весь этот онлайновый мир, - говорит он. - Я рассматриваю интернет как шанс для того, чтобы быстро, просто и выгодно предложить себя как кандидата. Сегодня не надо уже рассылать во всем адресам дорогие досье, и тем самым происходит экономия времени и денег». Пресс-секретарь компании Otto Дженнифер Буххольц не считает, что онлайновые формуляры лишают возможности людей, занятых поиском работы, представить себя индивидуально. «Сегодня они могут установить линки к своим собственным домашним интернет-сайтам и показать, например, видео-материалы о себе, - отмечает она. – Таким образом, за счет использования современных технических средств возможность представить свою личность потенциальному новому работодателю получает теперь пару дополнительных граней». Компания Otto также предоставляет соискателям право провести предварительные беседы с представителями отдела кадров по онлайновой телефонной системе Skype. Если первое впечатление оказывается позитивным, то тогда потенциального кандидата приглашают уже на традиционное собеседование. Оригинал публикации: Auf Talentsuche im Netz Опубликовано: 07/12/2012 12:09
Exclusive: Whistleblower claims £300bn wholesale gas market has been manipulated by big power companies• The gas game: all our related contentThe City watchdog, the Financial Services Authority, is investigating claims by a whistleblower that Britain's £300bn wholesale gas market has been "regularly" manipulated by some of the big power companies, exploiting weaknesses that echo the recent Libor scandal.Separately, the energy regulator Ofgem has been warned by a company responsible for setting so-called benchmark prices, ICIS Heren, that it had seen evidence of suspect trading on 28 September, a key date as it marks the end of the gas financial year and can have an important influence on future prices.The whistleblower, who worked for ICIS Heren, raised the alarm after identifying what he believed to be attempts to distort the prices reported by the company. These benchmark prices are critically important because many wholesale gas contracts are based on them and small changes in the price can cost or save companies millions.The revelations come at a highly charged time for Britain's energy sector, with many of the big six suppliers under public fire for alleged profiteering on household energy bills and mis-selling on the doorstep.The energy secretary, Ed Davey, said : "I am extremely concerned about these allegations and will be keeping in close touch with the regulators while they get to the bottom of this."In a statement, the FSA said: "We can confirm that we have received information in relation to the physical gas market. We take market misconduct seriously and will be analysing the material."Ofgem said it had been given material "relating to trading in the gas market and is looking into the issue". The energy regulator said it had limited powers in this area but would "consider carefully any evidence of market abuse brought to our attention as well as scope for action under all our other powers".The City and energy regulators are keenly aware of the growing political concern that high energy prices, which are linked to wholesale values, can increase fuel poverty and undermine economic growth. , he Green MP Caroline Lucas said: "If these revelations stand up to analysis by the FSA and Ofgem, then this is corruption on a massive scale and a shameful case of corporates coming together to exploit a public utility."The market abuse concerns were initially raised by Seth Freedman, a former City trader who worked as a price reporter at ICIS Heren for nine months. He told the Guardian he believed problems he spotted in a frenzied half-hour of trading on 28 September were more widespread."Traders have made clear to me that manipulation of gas prices is taking place on a regular basis."They name big companies among those they accuse of trying to rig prices and reap profits. Market participants claim the fixing of prices is an open secret," he said.He also claimed that:• The big six companies are among those whose names are quoted by traders as being involved in attempts to raise or depress wholesale gas prices.• The key benchmark indices produced by at least one price reporting agency (PRA) and used increasingly in massive UK supply contracts are unreliable, and undermined by poorly-trained staff and over-cosy relationships between traders and price reporters.• Traders regularly put price reporters under pressure to change prices they disagree with.• Price reporters struggle to set accurate benchmarks because they lack detailed information about trading in the opaque so-called "over-the-counter" market and are dependent on what traders tell them about market activity.The disturbing issues raised by the traders he spoke to daily in his job at ICIS led Freedman to tape conversations about the 28 September price gyrations, which he has handed over to the FSA.In one, a trader from one power firm says: "There's a feeling among some people that somebody's taking the piss a bit on the day-ahead index. Between us I think [Company X] got in a bit of trouble for that about six months ago." It has not been possible to establish if any company was censured.Another trader told Freedman, who has previously been a freelance contributor to the Guardian, in an instant messaging exchange: "There are a few shops that continually try to distort closes from what I see … some of the range of quotes I hear sometimes are criminal."When Freedman flagged up a series of suspiciously low trades that he believed were designed to depress ICIS's "day-ahead" price on 28 September, a senior ICIS manager acknowledged they appeared to be an attempt to manipulate the price but said "actually we did a bad job investigating it".ICIS Heren did notify Ofgem about the suspicious trades. But, in another recorded conversation, the manager said there was "no official thing to do" when PRAs saw what they believed to be evidence of price manipulation.The whistleblower's information, handed over to the FSA, shows that on 28 September the price at which so-called day-ahead gas contracts were being bought and sold dropped sharply at precisely the time – 4.30pm – at which ICIS Heren attempts to take the pulse of the market.One explanation for this could be that traders were deliberately dealing below the prevailing price in order to drag the benchmark down, perhaps because they stood to gain more from other contracts linked to this benchmark.It is not possible for price reporters to establish who did the suspicious deals as they were conducted through a third-party brokerage firm.In a statement, ICIS confirmed that it had detected some "unusual trading" activity on the British wholesale gas market on 28 September, which it reported to energy regulator Ofgem in October."The cause of the trading pattern, which involved a series of deals done below the prevailing market trend, has not yet been established. ICIS welcomes the seriousness with which the regulator has so far responded to this information and we have provided all the evidence at our disposal to help determine what happened."ICIS said it welcomed the additional powers that are to be assigned to national energy regulators as of next year under the EU's regulation on energy market integrity and transparency (Remit), and the additional market oversight provided by the pan-European energy regulator ACER.A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said: "The government takes alleged abuse in our markets very seriously. It's important not to pre-empt the work that the enforcement agencies already have under way to assess the detail of the allegations made. The FSA and Ofgem have a range of powers available to them and have our full support in applying the law and ensuring that any wrongdoers are held to account."It is understood Davey, will make a statement to the Commons on Tuesday about the price manipulation allegations.In Europe, energy firms have been trying to fight off attempts by Brussels to introduce tighter regulation of the gas market which would ensure there can be no repeat of the Libor scandal – where banks manipulated the rates at which they borrowed money.Arlene McCarthy, the North West England MEP, said she feared Freedman had unearthed another case of apparent market abuse and manipulation in gas prices. "For some time I have feared there is an extensive cartel culture of market-rigging and price-fixing in the commodities markets."Companies guilty of abuse must face the full force of penalties and sanctions and jail for criminal behaviour," she said."The FSA must take action but as the UK gas is the benchmark for gas traded at EU level I will be asking European commissioners [Joaquín] Almunia and [Michel] Barnier to take urgent action on cartels and price-fixing and introduce tough rules on the setting of benchmarks and indices in the commodities markets."Chris Cook, a former compliance officer at the International Petroleum Exchange and now a senior research fellow at University College, London, said the problems highlighted by Freedman in the gas market echoed those in the oil sector."There is a structural issue here that over-the-counter markets with low liquidity can be manipulated by traders putting through visible trades at a duff price. We need to make sure the market is more transparent through a transaction registry," Cook said.The way energy prices, which are used for key benchmarks in much larger multibillion-pound supply contracts, are formulated has been under scrutiny from the G20 group of leading global economies.The PRAs' (PRAs) work in the oil markets was scrutinised by an organisation working for the G20 nations amid widespread concern about oil trader speculation. There is no suggestion that ICIS or any other PRA has been involved in speculation themselves, but there are fears their reporting could be distorted by misleading information provided by energy traders, or by anomalously priced trades designed to move the benchmark price.A report published last month by the board of the International Organisation of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) talks about the "opacity and variations" in PRA assessment methodologies."The need for assessors to use judgment under methodologies creates an opportunity for the submitter of data deliberately to bias a PRA's assessment in order to benefit the submitter's derivatives position," it says, adding: "For example, a trader seeking to manipulate a price might attempt to influence the personnel responsible for assessment."The French oil group Total said in a letter to the IOSCO: "Sometimes the criteria imposed by PRAs do not assure an accurate representation of the market and consequently deform the real price levels paid at every level of the price chain, including by the consumer."Meanwhile, energy companies have been working hard to fight off any new initiatives from Brussels about the way gas prices are set.A European gas hub report just published by ICIS says: "The recent London interbank offered rate (Libor) scandal engulfing major financial institutions also prompted a European commission consultation in early September on the regulation of key indices, including those for coal, natural gas and electricity. However, strong industry resistance to many of the proposals has so far resulted in the watering down of many elements of the current regulatory proposals."In the past, because there were relatively few "spot" short-term contracts to give ideas about current prices, these British and other European longer-term import deals with the Norwegians or the Russians were tied to prevailing oil prices. But increasingly major long-term and high-volume contracts have been linked to spot prices set by ICIS and other agencies.Although some deals with corporate customers are specifically linked to benchmark prices such as ICIS Heren's, industry experts say it is difficult to assess what impact wholesale manipulation – if it were going on – would have on household bills.EDF and SSE, two of the big six, contacted by the Guardian, denied that they would be involved in any attempt to manipulate prices or be involved in other bad practice. Two others, E.ON and RWE, have made similar statements in the past.A spokesman for the French-based energy group said: "EDF Energy does not participate in loss-leading trading activity and considers it to be against existing market regulation. We make information likely to impact market price formation publicly available on our website in compliance with Remit."SSE said: "We are entirely confident that our energy portfolio management team operate in a fair and legitimate way."A spokesman for British Gas owner Centrica, said: "Our compliance procedures and trading principles are clear. They require us to comply with all EU and UK laws and we have done so."A spokesman for Scottish Power said: "Scottish Power has never engaged in trying to fix wholesale gas trading markets. Our trading division always acts with integrity and follows all rules in all of its engagements with the market."The political temperature over domestic energy bills is likely to hot up again when a British Gas price rise of 6% for gas and electricity comes into effect on Friday. The average household bill for a dual-fuel British Gas customer will go up from £1,260 to £1,336 a year, according to the energy account transfer service uSwitch.Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at uSwitch.com, said (Mon 12): "The timing could not be worse – as winter makes its presence known, the cost of heating our homes will be taking its toll on cash-strapped consumers. With bills reaching an all-time high, it's no surprise that almost nine in 10 households will be rationing their energy usage this winter."McCarthy, the MEP, said any upheaval in the wholesale markets was dangerous because domestic supply companies cited the rise in wholesale prices as a reason for household prices to increase. "If in the end wholesale prices are being manipulated to increase the profits of the energy companies then consumers will end up the victim of this great gas ripoff. Families have seen gas and energy prices rise on average by between six and 9% this year, adding on average £200 to their bills."Freedman has worked as an FSA-approved trader in the City and contributed to the Guardian from Israel. He was not working for the Guardian while employed as a price reporter by ICIS Heren.• Do you or have you worked in the gas market? Can you help us with this story? If so please email [email protected] industryGasCommoditiesFinancial Services Authority (FSA)RegulatorsEnergy billsConsumer affairsHousehold billsTerry Macalisterguardian.co.uk © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds
• EDF in talks with China to share £10bn reactor costs • French company's debt levels rocket to £30bn • Security concerns raise possibility of government taking 'golden share' in developmentEDF has been holding talks with China about sharing the soaring cost of building £10bn worth of new reactors at Hinkley Point, Somerset.The move underlines growing pressure on the French company's internal finances and has reignited a fractious debate about Communist state-run businesses playing a critical role in sensitive western energy infrastructure.The overtures to Beijing's state corporations – as well as approaches to Middle Eastern sovereign wealth funds – come as EDF faces growing investment demands in France and the UK that have sent debt levels rocketing to €39.7bn (£30bn)."We have always said we were open to the idea of other partners investing in the project. As we approach our final investment decision, it is right to consider funding options including seeking additional partners," said an EDF spokesman."Plans to build new reactors are advancing well and have achieved a level of maturity to make it attractive to potential new investors," he added. "However, it is too early to say anything about the outcome [of these talks]."EDF Energy owns and operates eight of the UK's existing 10 nuclear power stations and has plans to expand two of these sites, Hinkley Point and Sizewell, Suffolk, by building four new nuclear reactors.The company plans to make a final investment decision on Hinkley Point C by the end of this year but remains upbeat about the scheme, on which it has already spent £1bn.While EDF would not publicly confirm it, well-placed industry sources say the group, which has a 20% partner in Centrica already, has been in discussions with China's State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC) and China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corporation (CGNPC). These are the rival state-owned companies that have already teamed up with two Western consortiums vying to buy the Horizon Nuclear Power company from RWE and E.ON. Horizon owns sites at Wylfa, on Anglesey, and Oldbury, South Gloucestershire.SNPTC is in a bidding team with Areva, the French engineering company that is already working with EDF in Somerset, while talks have already been held by Chinese officials with the UK's Department of Energy and Climate Change about independently developing other nuclear sites in Britain such as Hartlepool in the north-east of England.Mark Pritchard, a Conservative MP and member of the parliamentary joint national security committee, said any Chinese involvement in EDF's new nuclear plans would raise concerns on a number of fronts and could even require a direct UK government involvement through some kind of golden share."If there is significant Chinese financing, then the coalition government should consider retaining a controlling stake," he said. "There would also need to be national security safeguards over any Chinese design and build.""Restrictions should also apply as to the number of Chinese workers who could work on UK-based nuclear projects. Major nuclear infrastructure projects are an opportunity to create tens of thousands of new jobs for UK workers."Nick Butler, a former energy adviser to Number 10, has earlier raised concerns about Chinese involvement in any potential Horizon bids. In a recent FT blog, he wrote: "They will be inside the system, with access to the intricate architecture of the UK's National Grid and the processes through which electricity supply is controlled, as well as to the UK's nuclear technology."Meanwhile, EDF last month revealed its debt levels had jumped nearly 20% in the first half of the year, partly because of €10bn in new spending commitments demanded by the French government on local reactors in the aftermath of the Fukushima atomic crisis in March last year.The energy company – majority owned by the French state – is also facing mounting cost overruns and delays on its planned new reactor scheme at Flamanville in northern France.A final green light for Hinkley Point C depends on receiving an acceptable "strike price", agreed with the government, that would guarantee future returns.EDF insists this strike price – seen by critics as unfair subsidy – will be lower than the £140 per megawatt hour that is roughly the current cost of producing offshore wind power.Energy industryEDF EnergyNational GridNuclear powerChinaTerry Macalisterguardian.co.uk © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds