Nuclear outage lifts French weekend price

Saturday, February 11, 2012

PARIS, Feb 10 (Reuters) - French weekend prices jumped early on Friday as a second unplanned nuclear outage within 12 hours caused panic in the market about a supply shortage, but prices for next week were steady as warmer weather was expected to ease demand pressure.

French baseload power for Saturday delivery traded nearly twice as high as in the neighbouring German market at 100.00 euros, after EDF's 1,300 Cattenom 2 nuclear reactor went offline unexpectedly overnight, tightening supply margins already under strain from high winter demand.

"The weekend contract opened very very high at 110 euros but has since lost 20 euros," one French power trader said.

The French weekend contract last traded at 88.00 euros per megawatt-hour (MWh) on Friday, easing off its high opening price after real-time consumption levels showed forecasts were around 1,000 MW higher than the outturn, another trader said.

Week-ahead prices in France and Germany were steady on Friday, reflecting traders' expectations Friday's unplanned outage would not last into next week.

EDF's 900-MW Tricastin 2 nuclear reactor, which stopped for an unplanned outage on Thursday, is expected to resume power production on Friday.

Milder weather forecasts for next week also helped ease pressure on week-ahead prices as demand is set to drop, especially in the electricity-dependent French market.

With temperatures set to climb to just 5 degrees Celsius below seasonal norms, as opposed to 10 degrees difference seen this week, French power demand is expected to ease below the 90,000-MW peak-time threshold from Wednesday onwards.

French evening demand had reached a new all-time high of 101,700 MW on Wednesday.

French week-ahead prices slipped one euro day on day to 81.00 euros on Friday, while in Germany the same contract fell to 53.00 euros.

Wind power output next week is expected to double compared with this week.

"In the first part of the week, wind power production will reach above the seasonal normal levels, gradually declining towards the end of the week," analysts at Point Carbon, a Thomson Reuters company, said.

Further out, curve contracts further edged lower and the German and French year-ahead contracts traded near parity.

German 2013 baseload power last traded at 51.65 euros, a 10-cent discount to the equivalent French contract.

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