French utility EDF delays restarts at three nuclear reactors

PARIS (Reuters) - French state-controlled power utility EDF has delayed the restart of its 900-megawatt (MW) St. Laurent 2 nuclear reactor by five days until Nov. 2, a notice on power grid operator RTE’s website showed on Saturday.

The logo of France's state-owned electricity company EDF is seen on the company's headquarters in Paris, France, November 24, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

The utility has also postponed by a day to Oct. 23 the restart of its 1,500-MW reactors Chooz 1 and Civaux 1, separate notices from RTE showed.

Chooz 1 was halted on Oct. 2 for maintenance and was initially scheduled to resume production the next day, but suffered an unplanned stoppage and its restart has been postponed several times since.

Civaux 1 went on planned maintenance outage on Oct. 17 and was expected to restart on Oct. 22.

EDF and RTE did not give reasons for the delays in restarting the reactors.

St. Laurent 2, offline since Sept. 23 for maintenance and refueling, is one of 12 reactors that EDF has submitted reports on following an investigation into their manufacturing documentation by French nuclear regulator ASN.

The nuclear watchdog has said it will review the reports before authorizing the restart of each reactor.

EDF said on Friday that it had received clearance from ASN to re-start its 1,300-megawatt Paluel 4 reactor, the first in the batch.

Analysts have expressed concerns that France, which depends on nuclear power for over 75 percent of its electricity needs, could face tight supplies this winter due to the prolonged outages of several nuclear reactors.

French and German forward power prices have posted strong gains in recent weeks due to lingering concerns over a repeat of the tight nuclear supply situation France faced a year ago when several reactors where halted by the regulator for extended safety checks.

Twenty-four out of France’s 58 nuclear reactors operated by EDF are offline for maintenance, refueling or reviews ordered by the regulator.

(This version of the story was refiled to insert dropped letter ‘s’ in headline)

Reporting by Bate Felix; Editing by Stephen Powell, Greg Mahlich