Fortum’s Swedish Atomic Reactor Output Drops 20%, Hurting Profit

Fortum Oyj, Finland’s biggest utility, said a 20 percent drop in output from the Oskarshamn nuclear reactors in Sweden last year caused profit to slump, even as record hydropower output helped mitigate the impact.

Fortum’s Nordic power production division had operating profit of 1.17 billion euros ($1.6 billion) last year, a drop of 21 percent from a year earlier, the Espoo, Finland-based company said in a statement today.

Profit fell as total nuclear production decreased an annual 6 percent to 23.4 terawatt-hours, mainly due to low output from Oskarshamn in Sweden, where Fortum operates three reactors together with Germany’s biggest utility EON SE. Fortum owns about 46 percent of the plants on Sweden’s east coast.

“The 473-megawatt Oskarshamn-1 unit was idle almost all year, while the utilization rate of the 1,400-megawatt Oskarshamn-3 plant also dropped” by an annual 6 percentage points to 69 percent, Tapio Kuula, chief executive officer, said on an earnings presentation webcast.

Sweden’s 10 nuclear reactors produced 62 terawatt-hours of electricity in 2012, up from 58.1 terawatt-hours in 2011, data from the operators show. Production rose at the three Forsmark units, where Fortum is a co-owner, and also at four reactors at Ringhals, operated by Vattenfall AB. The three Oskarshamn reactors produced 12.4 terawatt-hours, 20 percent less than a year earlier, according to the operators.

Lower nuclear production rates were offset by record hydropower production, which advanced 20 percent to an all-time high of 25.2 terawatt-hours, Fortum said. The Nordic area gets more than half of its power by running water through turbines, and a fifth from atomic reactors.

Last year, the Nordic countries used 391 terawatt-hours of electricity, 1.8 percent more than a year earlier, while power demand from industries failed to pick up, according to Fortum.

“Industrial power use remained flat last year,” Kuula said. It’s “clearly short of record levels seen in 2007 and 2008, while Finland remains 20 percent short of historical highs.”

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