Strikes disrupt electricity production at French nuclear power plants


PARIS, Oct 14 (Reuters) – A pay strike has cut nuclear output at two power plants operated by EDF (EDF.PA), a representative of France’s FNME-CGT union said, while two other sites are preparing to a weekend strike.

FNME-CGT members have been staging ongoing strikes at French nuclear power plants for weeks over pay, increasing the risk of power shortages as the French utility struggles to bring enough reactors back into service for the ‘winter.

The supply of nuclear reactors at the Belleville and Gravelines sites has decreased by 1.1 gigawatts (GW), according to EDF data. “The production restriction is expected to continue until the end of the local strike,” the company said on its website.

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Maintenance work was also further delayed on three Cruas reactors, two Tricastin and Cattenom reactors, and one Bugey and Gravelines reactor, FNME-GGT reported.

Maintenance delays were also extended from earlier to a Belleville reactor, the union representative said.

Sébastien Menesplier, general secretary of the FNME-CGT union, said there would be no impact on electricity supply this winter due to the strikes.

Workers are legally bound to ensure the continuity of public electricity service, forcing them to increase production or resume operations to put reactors back on the grid in the event of an imbalance between supply and demand, a- he added.

“The actions weigh only on the accounts of the company: a day of delay on a unit failure is generally worth 1 million euros. At the current price of electricity, it is 5 to 10 times more”, Menesplier said.

Workers at the Dampierre and Paluel nuclear sites are also preparing for a strike this weekend, said FNME-CGT representative Virginie Neumayer.

“The demands are a bit different depending on the sites, but converge towards (salary) demands,” Neumayer said.

Negotiations with EDF are due to begin next week, with the CGT due to meet management on October 19, she added.

Energy Transition Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher said on LCI radio on Friday that she hoped the situation would calm down.

“We have just learned that the CGT Energie has signed the branch agreement on the salary increase… I think this is good news to unblock the situation,” she said.

The Cruas 3 and 4 reactors, which were affected by the strikes, saw their restart date pushed back by one day.

French nuclear availability was 53% of total capacity with 25 reactors out of service for maintenance.

The CGT union also restricted fuel supplies in the country due to a week-long strike at oil major TotalEnergies (TTEF.PA), and slammed the door on talks, leaving more moderate unions to reach a conclusion. a pay deal as industrial action continues.

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Reporting by Forrest Crellin, additional reporting by Benjamin Mallet, Caroline Pailliez and Myriam Rivet; Editing by Jan Harvey and Jane Merriman

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