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EDF to cut 2020 French nuclear target on coronavirus impact

Highlights

Maintenance schedule under review due to lockdown measures

Earnings at low end of range on weak demand, price impact

Eur33 billion in liquid assets to weather crisis

London — French nuclear operator EDF has scrapped its 2020 nuclear output target due to coronavirus-related disruption to maintenance schedules, it said Monday.

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On February 14 the operator reduced its 2020 target by 20-30 TWh to 375-390 TWh due to maintenance and other constraints.

Now that figure is being reviewed "and will be adjusted downwards," EDF said, without giving a new figure.

"The interruption of maintenance operations on production facilities... calls for a reorganization of the maintenance schedule," it said.

EDF maintained its earnings forecast with EBITDA in a range of Eur17.5-18 billion for 2020 although at the lower end of the range, it said, adding that "it may be revised when the outlook on availability and associated costs becomes clearer."

"The drop in power prices on wholesale markets may have a significant impact at year-end" while "the reduction in the level of electricity demand is expected to have a limited financial impact," it said.

Impact on 2021 output

Relief on electricity bills decided by the French state should only temporarily increase capital requirements.

EDF's liquidity position was strong at Eur22.8 billion as of the end of 2019 as well as undrawn credit lines of Eur10.3 billion, it said.

Impacts for 2021 cannot be assessed precisely at this stage with the ongoing review of maintenance schedules aimed at maximizing winter 2020/21 availability.

This may have a negative impact on 2021 output, it added.

EDF's reactor fleet, which is set to shrink to 56 after the second reactor at Fessenheim closes in June, generated 379 TWh in 2019.

Before February, EDF pegged the current fleet's annual potential at 395 TWh.

Monthly output this winter has set consecutive record lows amid unprecedented maintenance delays, with 20 GW of capacity currently not available.

French power demand last Thursday was approximately 15% below a normal March day due to the coronavirus lockdown, with many French regions hit hard, grid operator RTE said.