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Lyondellbasell Agrees to Keep Marseille Petrochem in Long Term

Lyondellbasell Industries NV has promised the government it will keep petrochemical operations near Marseille in southern France operating in the “long term” while a refinery there will be permanently shut.

Lyondellbasell “has confirmed that the closure of its refinery won’t affect the viability of its petrochemicals activities at the Berre and Fos sites,” Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg said in a statement late yesterday.

The company also agreed to clean up the refinery site so it can be used for other industrial and logistics businesses, Montebourg said.

The comments close another chapter in the decline of refining in France. The 105,000 barrel-a-day plant has been mothballed since January 2012 and talks with bidder Sotragem SAM ended without a deal last month.

Refiners are mothballing plants across Europe, where overcapacity is depressing profit margins. In recent years Petroplus Holdings AG and Total SA have stopped refining at their plants at Petit-Couronne, Reichstett and Dunkirk.

“The shutdown of a refinery is not a fatality,” Montebourg said in yesterday’s statement.

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