Seven oil refineries in France are ready to resume processing as soon as crude supplies become available from ships stranded by month-long port strikes.
“The refiners are back at work but they cannot operate because they don’t have any crude oil,” Yves le Goff, a spokesman for refiner’s group UFIP, said by phone today from Paris.
France’s 11 refineries can process 1.84 million barrels of oil a day, according to Bloomberg data. Plants such as Total SA’s La Mede facility began halting production as early as Oct. 10 amid protests that began at ports on Sept. 27, before escalating over President Nicolas Sarkozy’s pension reform.
Workers at the oil terminal of Marseille on France’s southern coast were on strike today leaving 38 crude carriers and 20 refined product vessels stranded, according to an e-mailed statement from port officials.
Total’s La Mede plant in the south is in the preliminary stages of start-up following the end of strike action, Michael Crochet-Vourey, a company spokesman, said yesterday. The company’s other facilities remain halted amid countrywide protests.
Workers at Petroplus Holdings AG’s Petit Couronne site voted yesterday to return to work and fuel deliveries have resumed, Sevillane Lambret, a CFDT union representative said today by phone. Staff at the company’s other French plant at Reichstett agreed to return to work at the beginning of the week and production remained halted because of limited oil feedstock.
Petroplus was forced to start closing its Cressier refinery in Switzerland because of a lack of crude, the company said on Oct. 26. The plant relies on oil from France via a pipeline.
Ineos AG started to reduce production to “stand-by” mode at its Lavera refinery and petrochemical site in the south of France because of limited raw materials, the company said on Oct. 25. “We’re keeping the assets warm and when we get the crude, we’ll ramp up production,” Richard Longden, a U.K.-based Ineos spokesman, said yesterday.
Exxon Mobil Corp. said yesterday its employees wouldn’t take part in today’s nationwide protests over the government’s plan to increase the minimum age of retirement to 62 from 60. The company’s 233,000 barrel-a-day Gravenchon refinery, which depends on crude supplies from the port of Le Havre, was waiting for shipments, and its 119,000 barrel-a-day Fos facility in the south of France was running at reduced rates, said Catherine Brun, an Exxon spokeswoman. Both sites had resumed fuel deliveries.
The following table shows the status of French refineries, ranked by processing capacity in barrels a day. The Cressier plant in Switzerland is the only one outside France affected by the strikes as it gets crude supplies via pipeline from Fos.
Company Location Capacity Status Total Gonfreville 345,000 Halted because of strike. Exxon Mobil Gravenchon 233,000 Most units halted amid a complete shutdown because of limited crude oil supplies from the port of Le Havre. Fuel-deliveries started as workers returned. Total Donges 230,000 Halted because of workers’ strike. Ineos Lavera 218,000 Units are in “stand- by” mode amid limited crude oil supplies from Fos. Total La Mede 157,000 First stages of starting after strike ended. Petroplus Petit 142,000 Started to shut on Couronne Oct. 14. Staff voted yesterday to end strike. Fuel- deliveries resume. Exxon Mobil Fos 119,000 Runs at minimum on limited crude supplies from Fos. Staff return to work. Total Feyzin 115,000 Halted on strike. LyondellBasell Berre 105,000 Refining units halted because of limited crude oil supplies from Fos. Chemical plants at reduced rates. Workers aren’t on strike, company said on Oct. 25. Total Grandpuits 93,000 Halted because workers still on strike. Petroplus Reichstett 81,000 Some production halted on strike. Workers voted on Oct. 25 to return to posts. Petroplus Cressier 68,000 Starts shutdown on limited crude oil supplies from the Fos port, company said on Oct. 26.