* ASN indicated approval in elements of report given to EDF
* EDF shares rise nearly 3 percent in early trade
* Preliminary report usually confirmed in final ruling
* Final ASN ruling due in September or early October
(Adds comment by ASN in paragraph 5, EDF share price)
By Geert De Clercq
PARIS, June 7 French nuclear regulator ASN is
set to give safety clearance for the nuclear reactor vessel
being built for French utility EDF at its Flamanville
site, Le Figaro newspaper said on Wednesday.
The newspaper said the regulator had provided EDF with
elements of a preliminary report that indicate the equipment
meets the safety conditions for the reactor to start normally.
EDF's shares closed up 2.2 percent at 9.518 euros.
The company declined to comment on the report.
An ASN spokeswoman said the investigation was continuing and
that the ASN had not taken a decision.
She said a provisional ruling would be issued this summer,
followed by a final decision in September.
Non-approval would have meant billions of euros in extra
costs for EDF and jeopardised its planned takeover of nuclear
engineering group Areva's reactor business.
ASN has been examining weak spots in the reactor's lid and
base since the discovery in 2015 of an anomaly in carbon
concentrations in the steel used.
Excess carbon can make the steel brittle and more prone to
fracturing when exposed to shocks or quick temperature changes.
The ASN had warned these flaws could potentially be serious.
A source familiar with the ASN's investigation said the
probe would probably show that the weak spots did not represent
a major risk of cracking or explosion as they are not in the
areas that are under the heaviest stress.
"I think the conclusion (of the ASN's report) will be
positive, although it may also contain a demand for more intense
surveillance," the source said, adding that the ASN might
require more tests during the reactor's routine major
inspections each decade.
Le Figaro said that the ASN might require additional
controls in the reactor's first years of operation.
Several sources familiar with the situation said the ASN had
not yet finalised its technical report on the Flamanville
reactor, which is due at the end of June.
Once ready, the report will be reviewed by EDF, reactor
maker Areva and a group of independent experts who will then
issue a non-binding recommendation.
Based on this, the ASN is expected to publish a provisional
ruling, which will be available for public consultation for at
least a month. Because of the summer break, that process is
expected to last until September.
The ASN is then likely to take a few more weeks to review
the outcome of the consultation before it issues a final ruling
in September or early October, experts say.
(Reporting by Geert de Clercq; Editing by Dale Hudson, Greg