Belgium considers keeping oldest nuclear power stations running

General view of the Tihange Nuclear Power Station of ENGIE Electrabel in Tihange
General view of the Tihange Nuclear Power Station is seen after the Belgian government agreed in principle to close its two nuclear power plants by 2025, in Tihange, Belgium, December 23, 2021. REUTERS/Johanna Geron/File Photo

BRUSSELS, Feb 3 (Reuters) - The Belgian government is considering keeping its three oldest nuclear power stations running two more years than currently planned, Belgium's Energy ministry said on Friday.

The government will ask operator Engie (ENGIE.PA) whether it would be possible to keep the plants Tihange 1 and Doel 1 and 2, which were opened in 1975, running until 2027 instead of closing them down in 2025 as planned.

"The war in Ukraine and the problems in the French nuclear energy sector have made us look at ways to create more certainty and reduce risks in the energy supply," Energy ministry spokesman Jonas Dutordoir said.

"This could be part of the solution."

Engie declined to comment on the report.

Belgium last month already reached an agreement with Engie to extend the life of two nuclear reactors by 10 years, overturning a plan to totally exit nuclear power in 2025, after the war in Ukraine changed its energy strategy.

The Doel 4 and Tihange 3 reactors - the newest of Belgium's seven reactors - were due to close for good in 2025, but will now restart in November 2026 after necessary work and will continue operating for 10 years.

Keeping the three oldest reactors running throughout the winters of 2026 and 2027 should also help bridge the maintenance period of these two reactors, Dutordoir said.

The government is expected to take a decision on this next month, he added.

Reporting by Bart Meijer, additional reporting by America Hernandez and Benjamin Mallet Editing by David Goodman, Frank Jack Daniel and Louise Heavens

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