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US giants left in race for £750m 20-year Sellafield deal

Exclusive: Three US giants are left in the race to become the sole programme manager at Sellafield nuclear decommissioning plant for the next 20 years, Construction News can reveal.

CN understands that Aecom, KBR and MWH have all been shortlisted for the role of integration partner at the Cumbrian site, with the deal believed to be worth in the region of £750m.

The US-based firms will be battling it out for the contract to co-ordinate and manage the strategy and delivery of all major construction projects at the site over the next two decades.

The 20-year construction pipeline at Sellafield is understood to be worth up to £4.5bn.

Sellafield is the UK’s largest nuclear decommissioning site, with the latest government estimations predicting that the full cost of cleaning up the site could top £53bn and last well into the next century.

The integration partner package is one of four contracts to be procured to support Sellafield’s new 20-year programme and project partner scheme.

The three other contracts are for a design and engineering partner, worth in the region of £750m; a construction partner, worth approximately £1.5bn; and a process construction partner, valued at around £1.5bn.

The selected firms will work together initially on three projects – the SPRS Retreatment Plant, SIXEP Contingency Plant and the Replacement Analytical Project – worth up to £1.74bn in total.

The new long-term contracts, which will see just four suppliers deliver all major projects over the next 20 years, marks a major step-change in the way Sellafield delivers construction projects, moving away from a project-by-project procurement strategy.

The successful firm for the integration partner role will be in charge of the project management of works, including estimating quantity surveying, acquisition strategies and the development of IT strategies.

Sellafield confirmed to Construction News that it had successfully completed the prequalification phase of the Programme and Project Partner (PPP) procurement.

A spokeswoman for the client said: “A number of organisations have been chosen to progress to the next stage of the procurement: the Invitation to Negotiate.

“We will not be commenting on the identity of the shortlisted organisations at this stage.”

Aecom is currently working on a handful of decommissioning projects in the UK, including Dounreay.

In 2014, it bought fellow engineering giant URS as part of a plan to expand its presence and expertise in in the oil, gas and nuclear sectors.

URS previously worked at Sellafield as part of the Nuclear Management Partners joint venture, alongside Amec and French firm Areva, before it was bought by Aecom.

Colorado-based MWH has undertaken contracts including the lead consultant role for the construction, design and health and safety management of the proposed £10bn Moorside nuclear plant, situated next to the Sellafield site.

The firm’s technical director and head of programme management is Paul Taylor, who was previously head of planning cost management and PC systems at Sellafield.

KBR is best known for its work globally primarily in the oil and gas sector, but has increased its presence in the UK’s nuclear sector over recent years.

In 2015 it was chosen by Hinkley Point C developer EDF Energy on a long-term deal to project and programme manage site operations and equipment contracts at the £18bn plant.

The news comes on the day that 3,000 workers at Sellafield are walking out during a 24-hour strike as part of a dispute over a pay increase offered by the client. 

Aecom, MWH and KBR have been contacted for comment.

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