Engie to work with Belgium to study extending nuclear power there until 2035

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The logo of French gas and power group Engie is seen in Nantes, France, September 28, 2020. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

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PARIS, March 18 (Reuters) - French utility Engie said it will work with Belgium to study extending nuclear power in the country until 2035, responding to the country's decision to review its energy policy announced earlier Friday.

Belgium said it plans to keep two reactors, known as Doel 4 and Tihange 3, running for another 10 years in a reversal of an earlier plan to phase out all of its reactors by 2025.

The French utility, which operates the two plants, said it would work with the government to study feasibility of the plan, noting that the decision to extend the operational lifetime of the reactors raises "significant safety, regulatory and implementation constraints."

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"Because this is unforeseeable and given its scale, this presents a risk profile that goes beyond a private operator's normal activity," said Engie in a statement Friday.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine prompted Belgium's governing coalition to reconsider plans to rely more on natural gas.

The European Union aims to cut dependency on Russian gas by two-thirds this year and end its reliance before 2030, according to a proposal by the European Commission, the EU executive.

Tihange is a 1,038 megawatt reactor in eastern Belgium. Doel is a 1,039 MW reactor near the port city of Antwerp. The reactors make up 35% of the country's nuclear energy capacity.

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Reporting by Mimosa Spencer; Editing by Leslie Adler, Bernard Orr

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