(Precisely updated throughout)
PARIS, July 27 (Reuters) – The Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) announced on Wednesday that it had validated the control program drawn up by EDF to resolve the corrosion problems noted on certain reactors in the French fleet.
ASN specifies in a press release that it considers “that EDF’s strategy is appropriate given the knowledge acquired on the phenomenon and the associated safety issues”, while pointing out that the control of reactor 2 of the Belleville nuclear power plant ( Cher), scheduled for 2024, “is too late”.
After detecting this phenomenon at the end of 2021, which results in microcracks on safety system pipes, EDF has in recent months shut down or extended shutdowns of 12 reactors – out of the 56 in the fleet. French – to carry out in-depth examinations and carry out repairs, which led the group to revise downwards its production outlook for 2022 three times.
On the basis of a control program for the entire fleet, EDF estimated in May that, for 2022, it was not necessary to anticipate new reactor shutdowns to carry out these controls.
The ASN specifies in its press release that, given the evolving nature of knowledge on this phenomenon, “the inspection program will have to be adapted if the inspections or analyzes reveal new elements”.
Combined with maintenance work, the corrosion problems contribute to a low availability of the French nuclear fleet – less than 50% – and reinforce concerns about the balance between electricity supply and demand for winter 2022-2023 even then that the energy sector in Europe is going through a serious crisis linked to the threat of a disruption in the supply of Russian gas, against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine.
The French government announced on July 19 its intention to increase EDF’s capital to 100% for an amount of 9.7 billion euros and to delist it, which will give the executive free rein to lead the group in particular to launch the construction of six EPR2 technology reactors by 2050, as announced by Emmanuel Macron in February.
The Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, has however estimated in recent days that EDF, also in search of a new direction, should as a priority restore the production of its historic fleet.
At 9:34 a.m., the EDF share rose by 0.8% on the Paris Stock Exchange. (Report Benjamin Mallet, written by Myriam Rivet; edited by Jean-Michel Bélot)
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