French refinery strikes widen: Correction

  • Market: Crude oil, Oil products, Petrochemicals
  • 09/26/22

Corrects closure details in paragraph 3

Workers at TotalEnergies' three refineries in France will start a three-day strike over pay from tomorrow, according to the CGT union. Meanwhile, strikes at ExxonMobil's French refining and petrochemical sites face a "pivotal" day.

The union said all of TotalEnergies' "industrial refining and petrochemical sites will be on strike 27-29 September". Workers are downing tools in an argument over pay. TotalEnergies had one-day strikes at all its French sites, including subsidiaries, in July and August.

The company operates the 109,300 b/d Feyzin refinery, the 219,000 Donges plant and the 246,900 b/d Gonfreville refinery at Le Havre. Feyzin is currently shut after a fire earlier this month, while an LPG production unit at Gonfreville has also been halted because of a fire.

The strike by TotalEnergies workers coincides with ongoing industrial action by members of the CGT and Force Ouvriere (FO) union at ExxonMobil's French sites. ExxonMobil operates a 133,000 b/d refinery at the Mediterranean port of Fos and the 236,000 b/d Port Jerome refinery and adjacent Gravenchon petrochemical plant at Le Havre. Both refineries and the petrochemical plant are shut.

The ExxonMobil workers are also striking over pay, with a proposed 4pc increase from management so far rejected. The offer from ExxonMobil will expire this afternoon at 15:00 local time when a meeting between unions and management will be held. If the offer is not accepted, a lower offer from management will come into force.

The CGT says the expiry of the offer today will be "a pivotal moment". At this point another meeting of employees will be held to discuss the reaction.

After workers convened in the afternoon on 23 September, the union said there was a face-to-face confrontation with management at Port Jerome. At the end of the meeting, "strikers wanted to directly question two directors of the plant. A confrontation therefore took place where the strikers were able to express themselves and observe the dogmatism of the management", the CGT said.

There appear to be delays to crude tankers unloading for ExxonMobil at the port of Fos-Lavera. In all, three vessels are waiting just outside the mouth of the harbour, according to Argus tracking. This is some distance from the Fos crude discharge terminal inside the port. The Seavision and SFL Trinity both arrived on 17 September with 1mn bl of Caspian CPC Blend and 700,000 bl of US WTI Midland, respectively. The Delta Mariner arrived on 21 September with 1mn bl of Nigerian grade Usan. The earliest slated discharge is 28 September for the SFL Trinity.


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