December 15, 2017 / 10:33 AM / 10 months ago

UPDATE 1-France's EDF to miss nuclear output target as restart dates slip

* 2017 output target had already been cut twice

* Nuclear reactor restart dates constantly delayed

* EDF set to get through winter with 4-5 reactors out

* EDF shares take news (Adds detail on reactor restart date slippages)

By Geert De Clercq

PARIS, Dec 15 (Reuters) - French state-owned utility EDF on Friday said it would miss its 2017 nuclear output forecasts because of reactor outages in recent weeks, but confirmed its earnings outlook.

In a statement, EDF confirmed its target for earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) target of 13.4-14.0 billion euros in 2017.

EDF shares took the lower output news in their stride and were up 0.2 percent, outperforming a 0.4 percent slide of the French CAC40 index.

EDF said 2017 nuclear output would be slightly below an already lowered target range of 383-387 terawatt-hours (TWh) it gave in October, but did not indicate how far below.

The October revision came after the restart of EDF’s Tricastin nuclear power plant was delayed.

Nuclear regulator ASN had ordered the temporary closure of its four reactors while EDF reinforced the dikes of its cooling water canal.

In September, EDF had already cut its French nuclear output target to 385-392 TWh from its original target of 390-400 TWh after its first announced the Tricastin shutdown.

Two of the Tricastin reactors remain closed and are set to restart in coming days, although their restart target dates have slipped repeatedly in recent weeks.

On Thursday, 11.3 gigawatt, or 18 percent, of EDF’s 63.3 GW French nuclear capacity was offline, compared to 20.1 GW or 32 percent on Nov. 14.

For now, 11 of EDF’s 58 reactors remain offline for maintenance or unplanned outages and just three reactors - Cruas 2, Fessenheim 2 and Paluel 2 - are in long-term outages that are set to continue through the winter months.

But EDF’s restart calendar is constantly shifting, with restart dates regularly moved back by a few days or weeks.

Belleville 2, for instance, which was closed on Oct 7 and scheduled to restart Nov. 21, saw its restart date delayed several times, first to Nov. 26, then to Dec. 2, then to Dec. 10. On Thursday it was delayed again, now to Jan. 12.

One month ago, EDF’s French nuclear fleet chief Dominique Miniere said that this winter EDF would have a maximum of 4-5 reactors offline, compared to nine last winter.

Nuclear output in November 2017 amounted to 30.3 terawatt-hours (TWh), down by 0.8 TWh or 2.6 percent compared to November 2016, due to a higher volume of extended outages and the Tricastin shutdown.

Since the beginning of the year, cumulative output amounted to 341.7 TWh as of the end of November, down 5.6 TWh or 1.6 percent year on year.

$1 = 0.8477 euros Reporting by Dominique Vidalon, Geert De Clercq and Bate Felix; writing by Geert De Clercq; editing by Richard Lough and Jason Neely

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