April 4, 2019 / 9:42 AM / 4 months ago

EDF's Flamanville reactor likely delayed to early 2020-Le Maire

PARIS, April 4 (Reuters) - The startup of French state-owned power company EDF’s Flamanville nuclear reactor will likely be delayed again to early 2020, the French finance minister said on Thursday.

EDF had said in July 2018 that the reactor would be loaded with nuclear fuel in the fourth quarter of this year, connected to the country’s grid in the first quarter of 2020 and operate at full capacity in the second quarter of 2020.

“I can tell you that, in any case, it won’t be, as was planned, in September-October 2019, but it will be probably in early 2020, but I don’t want to commit,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said in an interview with BFM TV.

French nuclear regulator ASN said in late January that problems with faulty weldings at could lead to further delays and is set to rule rule early May on whether EDF proposals to fix the weldings are acceptable.

EDF on Thursday reiterated that its staff were fully mobilized to get the reactor ready for a first fuel load in the fourth quarter of 2019.

When it started the reactor’s construction in 2004, the utility had said it would cost three billion euros and would start generating electricity in 2012. But technical problems have led to repeated delays and budget increases. Last summer, EDF again raised its cost estimate for Flamanville to 10.9 billion euros ($12.25 billion).

EDF shares were down 2.3 percent in morning trade. ($1 = 0.8900 euros) (Reporting by Benjamin Mallet and Simon Carraud Writing by Inti Landauro Editing by Geert De Clercq)

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