State-owned Electricite De France (EdF) said on Thursday that 20 companies bought access to its generation capacity in an auction held this week according to a Reuter’s report.

Successful bidders in the auction, held on 11-12 September and for 1200 MW of capacity, have bought electricity but not the power stations themselves, which remain under EdF’s ownership.

EdF agreed to allow competitors to access its production to gain approval from the European Commission for its purchase of a controlling stake in German utility EnBW.

“The 1200 MW of production capacity, auctioned on the Internet on the morning of Sept 11, was sold entirely by the night of Sept 12, in spite of an interruption of a few hours due to the situation in the United States,” EdF said in a statement.

An EdF spokesman told Reuters the start of the auction on Wednesday had been delayed two hours and only began at 1100 local (0900 GMT) after the attacks on the United States.

“It’s lucky the auction was held over two days because there was a lot of confusion about market prices after the situation in the U.S,” said one senior trader in the UK.

The winning bids will be revealed later on Thursday but details of the successful companies cannot be specified as the European Commission told EdF it was not permitted to divulge the names, the spokesman said.

Stefan Herde, trading manager at Hamburg HEW’s , said his company took part in the auctions but declined to give details of the volumes they bid for.

He said prices in the auction were around levels seen in the French over-the-counter market.

“The Cal 02 baseload, for example, finished at €23.26 per MWh, very close to the OTC price,” Herde said.

The bidders bought a range of contracts, which included 800 MW of baseload capacity, 200 MW of peak capacity and 200 MW of cogeneration capacity, which EdF buys from smaller producers under long-term contracts.

EdF plans to sell a total of 6000 MW or what it says is the equivalent of six nuclear reactors and more than 12 per cent of the republic’s total output, in auctions organised every three months over the next two years.

France has been criticised by its European competitors for being slow to open its domestic market while EdF has been aggressively expanding elsewhere in the European Union.

France only passed the law opening its electricity sector to competition in 2000, a year after the deadline set by the EU’s electricity directive.