Total CEO Sees Refinery Halts in Europe, France on Overcapacity

Total SA Chief Executive Officer Christophe de Margerie said refineries could close in Europe including France amid a decline in demand for fuel.

“We don’t need so much capacity in France,” de Margerie said yesterday in a television interview on LCI. “We have to know how to choose” among refineries.

European crude processors have reduced output after slower economic growth curbed fuel demand. Petroplus Holdings AG, once Europe’s largest independent processor, filed for insolvency and is in the process of shutting a refinery in France at Petit-Couronne. Total lowered European capacity by 23 percent to 1.8 million barrels a day from 2007 to 2012 including by shutting its crude-processing plant at Dunkirk.

Total has started talks with unions on refining capacity in France, de Margerie said.

Refineries will close in France and other European countries because of lower fuel demand, he said.

Total has said it isn’t ruling out closing another French refinery as it seeks to scale down its European refining and petrochemicals business by a fifth in five years.

Total struggled with opposition from workers and the state over the closing of its Dunkirk plant. Protests threatened national fuel shortages, and Total had to promise the government in 2010 it wouldn’t close another site for five years.