By Bate Felix
PARIS (Reuters) – French utility EDF <EDF.PA> cut its 2019 nuclear power generation target in France for the second time this year due to unplanned and prolonged nuclear reactor outages, but said this would have no impact on its financial guidance.
EDF reduced its target for French nuclear power generation to between 384 terawatt hours (TWh) and 388 TWh from 390 TWh, mainly due to extended outages at its Cruas nuclear power plant.
It had previously cut the target to 390 TWh from about 395 TWh in October due to outages at its Flamanville 2 and Paluel 4 reactors, and the unplanned shutdown of the Flamanville 1 reactor.
Nuclear electricity generation in France fell by 1.8 TWh to 288.2 TWh in the nine months to the end of September, compared with the same period in 2018.
French hydro power output also fell 27.6% to 27.5 TWh.
EDF Chief Financial Officer Xavier Girre told analysts that the fall in output was due to a lower availability of its nuclear fleet and prolonged outages.
Nevertheless, he expressed confidence that EDF would meet its financial targets.
“On the positive side, we were able to execute our purchase and sales operations in the wholesale market at better pricing conditions than initially expected. Regulated activities performed better than anticipated,” Girre said.
He said hydro power generation was expected to perform better in the later part of the year, while an expected sale of some assets helped it to maintain annual guidance.
EDF reported a 3.4% increase in revenue in the first nine months of the year to 50.9 billion euros (£43.84 billion)
compared with the same period last year, driven by favourable market conditions in its home market.
Growth in energy services, businesses in Brazil and Belgium, as well as the strong performance of its trading business also boosted the results.
EDF shares were up 2.5% at 9.3 euros by 0921 GMT.
“Positive performance with sales up for the first nine months of the year, mainly supported by France,” said Roche Brune Asset Management fund manager Meriem Mokdad. She, however, added that her firm was still not investing in EDF due to its high debt and weak return on investments.
Following an earthquake in southern France on Nov. 11 that forced it to halt reactors at the Cruas plant, EDF said it was continuing checks at the plant.
It had initially planned to restart the reactors on Nov. 15.
“It is a purely administrative delay. To the best of my knowledge no anomaly has been identified at all,” said Girre.
EDF added it expected a gradual return to service for the Cruas reactors during the first half of December.
(Reporting by Bate Felix; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)