French Refinery Workers Strike Over Halt as Montebourg Steps In

French oil-refinery employees will strike today to protest the shutdown of the Petit-Couronne plant in Normandy, as Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg petitions a regional court to delay a decision on its future.

Refinery workers across the country plan to down tools, the Confederation Generale du Travail said in a statement. While the court is due to meet today, Montebourg is seeking more time to examine Libyan interest in the plant after being contacted by the nation’s sovereign wealth fund, he said on RTL radio.

The 154,000-barrel-a-day site went into administration after owner Petroplus Holdings AG filed for insolvency in January. The plant’s suspension was the fourth in France in two years, reflecting lower refining profits across Europe. Petit- Couronne was placed in liquidation last month after bids from Alafandi Petroleum Group and Netoil Inc. were rejected.

The refinery has been operating since June under a six- month tolling deal with Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA), allowing Shell to supply crude and take ownership of the products for a fee. The plant may shut later this month if a credible buyer or plan isn’t approved by the court, according to the CGT.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tara Patel in Paris at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Will Kennedy at

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