Oil report

EDF unions leave works council in protest over Hinkley Point

PARIS, March 17 (Reuters) - Unions at French state-controlled utility EDF withdrew from a works council in protest over France’s decision to push ahead with a 18 billion pound ($25.7 billion) UK nuclear reactor project at Hinkley Point.

The French government said on Thursday it was ready to give EDF the financial support it needs to go ahead with the project.

EDF unions said in a joint statement the decision to go ahead with Hinkley Point was an obstacle to a “constructive dialogue”.

EDF had no comment.

While the company is profitable, its heavy investments are weighing on cash flow and EDF has had to borrow billions of euros in recent years just to pay dividends, pushing net debt to over 37 billion euros, more than twice its market value.

EDF will also need to find billions to bail out another state company - nuclear engineering firm Areva - by taking over its reactor unit and 50 billion euros to finance the renewal of its fleet of reactors. ($1 = 0.8839 euros) (Reporting by Matthias Blamont; additional reporting by Geert de Clercq; editing by David Clarke)