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The Urenco Group is a nuclear fuel company operating several uranium enrichment plants in Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It supplies nuclear power stations in about 15 countries, and in 2011 had a 29 per share of the global market for enrichment services. Urenco uses centrifuge enrichment technology.[1][2]

Urenco's main rivals include Russia's Tenex, America's USEC and France's Areva, though China has around 6 per cent of the market and is growing fast. [3]

For sale

In August 2013 Urenco was put up for sale for £9bn by its three one-third shareholders – the British and Dutch governments and a private combo representing Germany, namely the RWE and E.ON utility companies. [3]

Potential buyers of Urenco according to The Telegraph include Canadian uranium processor Cameco, Areva, infrastructure funds and private equity.[3]

Just three months later the proposed sale had reportedly stalled because the Dutch foreign ministry was said to be facing push-back from its parliament about protecting national interests in a sale. [4]


Meetings with government ministers


  • Helmut Engelbrecht, chief executive joined Urenco in 2003, having previously been a customer as E.ON's fuel supply boss. Regarding the entrenched negotiations between the UK and EDF over building a new nuclear power station in Somerset in the UK, Engelbrecht is certain it "will come to a conclusion. It's essential infrastructure to keep the UK electricity supply going. You cannot have relied for 25pc of your generation on nuclear for 60 years and all of a sudden expect to be able to forgo that". [3]

Former executives and directors

  • Neville Chamberlain CBE, the former chief executive of BNFL and chairman of Urenco, until December 2011 (also a non-executive director of AMEC Nuclear from October 2005).


Youth nuclear education

Urenco's website has a section dedicated to a cartoon character it describes as a 'science ambassador'. 'Richie Enrichment' and his 'World of Adventure' includes his own theme song, ringtones, screensavers, activity cards, newsletter and a DVD that 'provides even more of an insight into science and the process of uranium enrichment'.

URENCO says that it 'liaises closely with local schools and charities to gain an understanding of community needs':

For teachers or those involved in education, a free copy of the Richie Energy DVD is available in the UK on request by emailing Richie at richie@urenco.com'. Contact Richie now to arrange a schools science workshop!

'Quick facts' about nuclear power and waste on URENCO's website include the following:

  • If you used only nuclear fuelled electricity throughout your life the high level nuclear by-product produced would be the size of a tennis ball.
  • The governments of the URENCO countries (UK, Netherlands, Germany) have to approve potential customer countries before we are allowed to supply them
  • We have earned recognition as the global leader in advanced gas centrifuge technology.
  • Through an employee initiative, a reduction of 90% has been achieved in the quantity of waste process water that needs to be disposed of from one of our manufacturing operations
  • Australia's uranium reserves are the world's largest, with 24% of the total. Production and exports average about 10,000 tonnes of uranium oxide (8500 tU) per year.

The site encourages students to: "Click on the picture below to download Richie's Enriching the Future brochure and learn more about how we produce nuclear energy to help you turn your lights on and watch the TV.

Urenco also provides links to E.ON's website, encouraging young people to "Think about the nuclear debate... Are we looking forward to a nuclear future? Test your skills on this interactive debate: http://www.eon-uk.com/EnergyExperience/705.htm

Richie has his own Facebook page, of course. His homepage as of September 2013 is emblazoned with the words from Urenco's 'Powerful Facts' campaign:

One nuclear fuel pellet the size of your fingertip produces as much energy as a tonne of coal'. Now that's a powerful fact.

Contact, Resources and Notes




  1. About URENCO.  Urenco.  Retrieved 14 September 2012.
  2. Full Year 2011 Audited Financial Results.  Urenco.  Retrieved 14 September 2012.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Alistair Osborne, Urenco chief Helmut Engelbrecht knows his nukes and just how to generate cash, The Telegraph, 16 Jun 2013 9:05PM BST, acc 21 August 2013
  4. Ashley Armstrong, Plan to sell Urenco runs into Dutch objections, The Telegraph, 9 November 2013, acc 11 November 2013
  5. Department of Energy and Climate Change. Ministerial meetings with outside interests, 1 Oct - 31 Dec 2010
  6. URENCO appoints new Chairman, Urenco news release, 1 December 2011, acc 25 Sept 2013
  7. PRCA Public Affairs Register: Consultancies – March to May 2013
  8. UKPAC Register, Period 1 September 2011 to 30 November 2011