(Bloomberg) -- Two Belgian nuclear reactors could be allowed to operate beyond 2025 to help cover potential energy shortages, the country’s Federal Agency for Nuclear Control said in a report sent to the federal government on Monday.

If a March 18 report by grid operator Elia Group SA shows that energy supply would be threatened without nuclear power, the Doel 4 and Tihange 3 reactors could continue to operate if they undergo an upgrade, the agency said in a statement. The government must make a clear decision on this issue in the first quarter of this year, the agency said.

Belgium last month confirmed plans to proceed with a phase-out of its existing nuclear power plants by 2025, but kept open the option of extending the lifetime of reactors to ensure supply security. A final decision is due in mid-March.

The extension debate comes as Europe is gripped by one of the worst energy crunches in history, forcing politicians to step in as soaring prices threaten to leave millions of households unable to pay their bills. Europe will get stung this year with an energy bill of about $1 trillion, biggest in a decade, according to Citigroup Inc.

As part of the process, Engie SA -- the operator of the plants -- will have to submit a long-term plan for the reactors. Given the limited time available, the FANC suggested it could consult Engie within six months of the government decision to identify what needs to be done and when.

Engie is analyzing the report, spokeswoman Hellen Smeets said, declining to comment further. The utility has previously said that the timing set out by the Belgian federal government isn’t compatible with the legal, regulatory and operational issues of such an extension project.

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