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PARIS, Nov 4 (Reuters) - French utility EDF is doing its best to have more nuclear reactors up and running but was waiting for the green light from the nuclear safety regulator to restart some of them, its chief executive said on Friday.
Safety watchdog ASN has asked EDF to carry out additional checks on 12 reactors, which has prolonged their outage period and raised fears France may face a power supply squeeze this winter.
Concerns over tight nuclear power availability in France, usually a net electricity exporter in Europe that depends on its 58 reactors for 75 percent of its power needs, have pushed European power prices to record highs over the past weeks.
“EDF is doing its best to have the maximum number of reactors online although as of today, ASN has not authorised us to restart some the reactors despite our request,” Jean-Bernard Levy said the sidelines of an energy conference in Paris.
“We believe these reactors can be operational, but ASN does not agree. They have asked for more information before taking a decision, thus the late start of some reactors than what we had initially planned until a couple of days ago,” he said.
EDF on Thursday pushed back the restart of five reactors - Bugey 4, Gravelines 2, and Tricastin 1, 3 and 4 to the end of December 2016 from earlier planned dates at the end of November and mid-December.
It also cut its nuclear power output and EBITDA for the year.
On Friday, it delayed the restart of its 900 MW Chinon 3 nuclear reactor to Nov. 11 from Nov. 6.
“We believe that our fleet, or at least these reactors are operational, but the ASN does not agree,” Levy said.
Compounding the problem, is the hydro power situation that is not good because of lack of adequate rainfall, Levy said.
Some 19 reactors out of the 58 EDF operate are currently out of service, representing 19,300 megawatts (MW), or 30.51 percent out of 63,260 MW of French installed nuclear capacity that is offline. (Reporting by Bate Felix; Editing by Matthias Blamont and John Irish)
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