July 29, 2015 / 12:15 PM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-Belgium, Engie unit reach deal on nuclear tax, plant life extensions

(Adds details from Belgian government)

PARIS/BRUSSELS, July 29 (Reuters) - The Belgian government has reached agreement with Electrabel, Belgian unit of French utility Engie, to extend the lifespans of two nuclear reactors and on a lower nuclear tax, the energy ministry said on Wednesday.

Energy Minister Marie Christine Marghen said in a statement that the lifespans of nuclear reactors Doel 1 and 2, with a capacity of 433 MW each, will be extended till 2025. Doel 1 has been closed since February and Doel 2 was scheduled to close in December, when it will be 40 years old.

Belgium had planned to shut the two reactors in 2015, but problems at other sites, most notably cracked core tanks which halted the more powerful Doel 3 and Tihange 2 reactors, led to a re-evaluation of that strategy to guarantee the power supply of the country’s 11 million inhabitants.

The minister said Electrabel had agreed to pay a flat nuclear tax of 200 million euros ($221.08 million) for 2015 and 150 million euros for 2016. The group would also pay another fee of 100 million euros in 2015 and 20 million in 2016 — a settlement in a case between the company and the Belgian government.

From 2017, the tax will be reviewed based on costs and power prices and will amount to 40 percent of Electrabel’s margin on its nuclear activities.

Engie said on its Twitter account that the agreement would be submitted to its board later on Wednesday.

Engie shares were up 2.5 percent after the announcement. ($1 = 0.9046 euros) (Reporting by Geert De Clercq and Robert-Jan Bartunek; Editing by Dominique Vidalon/Mark Heinrich)

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