Total Halting Three French Refineries Amid Strike, Union Says

Workers at three out of five French refineries operated by Total SA (FP), the nation’s biggest oil company, voted to halt production amid industrial dispute over pay increase, a union official said.

The Feyzin refinery was in the process of shutting units after a vote yesterday, Christian Votte, a CGT union representative, said today by phone. Operations at La Mede have already stopped, while the Gonfreville site is still in the process of halting production, he said. Officials for Paris-based Total weren’t immediately available for comment after being contacted by phone and e-mail.

“If shutdowns at these French refineries do go ahead --it would take a couple more days for output to be halted completely--, it could potentially provide regional margins with a boost,” Vienna-based researcher JBC Energy GmbH said in an e-mailed report. “The issue has the potential to see more than 600,000 b/d of the country’s refining capacity idled.”

Total’s five refineries in France, including the Donges and Granpuits facilities, have a capacity to process about 800,000 barrels a day of crude, or 60 percent of the nation’s output, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Demand for oil products in France averaged 1.76 million barrels a day in the third quarter, according to data from the International Energy Agency published on Dec. 11.

Industrial action over pay started at the refineries on Dec. 13, the day when salary negotiations began with Total, according to CGT. The CFDT and CGC-CFE unions agreed to a pay deal with the company yesterday, while CGT didn’t sign it, according to union officials. Acceptance of the accord by two unions was “sufficient for any agreement to be deemed valid,” JBC said.

Separately, the Donges refinery, where workers voted yesterday to end strike, was operating at a very low rate because of a “technical incident,” CGT’s Votte said.

Total bought three barges of diesel yesterday totaling 8,500 metric tons for delivery in the Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Antwerp oil-hub via the Platts pricing window, according to a survey of traders and brokers.

To contact the reporters on this story: Konstantin Rozhnov in London at krozhnov@bloomberg.net; Morgane Lapeyre in London at mlapeyre@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Voss at sev@bloomberg.net

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