French Union Calls For Nationwide #refinery Strike This Thursday #total #downstream

By 30th June 2015 Industry News No Comments

France’s CGT union, which represents Total workers, has called for a nation-wide strike July 2 at refineries, oil depots and crude import terminals to protest the company’s plan to halt processing crude at the La Mede facility, located in southern France near Marseille.

Since June 11, the La Mede refinery has been idled due to a strike by approximately 15 CGT-represented workers led by the CGT union, which called for the additional work stoppages to begin this Thursday, according to a Total spokesperson who spoke to Bloomberg. He added that discussions with all unions on the future plans for the refinery are ongoing.

Total’s oil refinery at La Mede

In a Monday statement, the CGT said its rationale for calling for a wider strike is to protest the planned “death” of crude refining at La Mede. The union also called for blockades of Total-owned service stations in France every Thursday during the summer months.

The French supermajor said in April it plans to convert the unprofitable refinery to produce biofuels, as well as to reconfigure its Donges facility on the Atlantic coast. The projects are aimed at reducing its European refining capacity and making it more profitable, Total added.

Total, which is Europe’s largest refiner, said it will invest $224 million at La Mede for a biorefinery that will process 500,000 metric tons per year. Further, the processing of crude oil will stop at the end of 2016, while Total will cut 180 jobs at the location with firings, the company told Bloomberg.

By stopping crude processing at the La Mede refinery, France will be left with seven oil refineries versus 24 in 1977. The most recent series of closures included Total’s closure of its facility in Dunkirk in 2010 amid a strike, as well as shutdowns by LyondellBasell Industries NV and Petroplus Holdings AG.

Total CEO Patrick Pouyanne

Total CEO Patrick Pouyanne said in the company’s “French Refining Roadmap” update in April,

“There are three possible responses to the crisis in the European refining industry. The first is to throw in the towel. The second is to do nothing and perish. The third is to innovate and adapt to meet shifting demand trends. The central focus of Total’s plan for our French refining business is to realign our operations and products to changing markets. The plan that we are presenting today offers sustainable solutions for the Donges and La Mède refineries. It gives both facilities a future and strengthens Total’s refining base in France,” commented Patrick Pouyanné, Chief Executive Officer of Total. “As was the case for the project to secure the future of the Carling plant in eastern France, the master words for the plan’s deployment are: anticipation and consensus. Total will implement this industrial transformation without layoffs or imposed geographical transfers for non-exempt employees.”

Source: Industry News {$excerpt:n}