Oil report

Low flow rate may halve output at France's Saint-Alban nuclear plant

PARIS, Aug 20 (Reuters) - A low flow rate on the Rhone River will likely restrict output on Saturday and Sunday at EDF’s Saint-Alban nuclear plant in southeastern France, French grid operator RTE said on Thursday.

The two Saint-Alban reactors produce 1.3 gigawatts (GW) of power each, and the output reduction could be equivalent to the production of one unit, RTE said.

EDF’s use of water is regulated by law to protect plant and animal life. It is obliged to reduce output during hot weather when water temperatures rise, or when river levels and the flow rate are low.

Last month was the driest July in at least 60 years and the first half of August was the second hottest on record, making it the fifteenth consecutive month with higher than average temperatures, Meteo France data showed.

RTE published a similar warning for the Chooz reactors in northern France on Tuesday, as low water levels on the Meuse river risk extending current maintenance periods.

French nuclear availability is currently at 63.6% of total capacity, with 22.7 GW offline. (Reporting by Forrest Crellin; Editing by Jan Harvey)