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French unions could extend refinery strikes shutting plants - CGT

December 12/2019

MOSCOW (MRC) -- French unions could extend strike action at a number of refineries across the country to fully shut down installations, depending on how Prime Minister Edouard Philippe responds, reported S&P Global with reference to the CGT union's statement Wednesday.

Staff at a number of French refineries continued the strike Wednesday, with many plants operating at minimum throughput, the union and local media reports said.

French labor unions - including the CGT, FO and FSU - last week called on employees in all sectors to take part in industrial action against the government's pension reforms. Philippe was due to give a statement around midday local time Wednesday.

French oil industry group UFIP said Wednesday all refineries are operating, although oil terminals at some sites, including Gonfreville, Grandpuits, Donges and La Mede, are blocked. However supply is not affected from ExxonMobil's and Petroineos' refineries, UFIP said. It said 2.4% of retail stations, out of a total 11,000, have problems with supply.

Employees at Total's Grandpuits and Donges refineries, its La Mede biofuels plant and Petroineos' Lavera refinery have extended the strike with no product deliveries, the CGT source said. While the refineries continue to operate, throughput has been reduced.

Total's Feyzin refinery, which was shut due to a strike in October and November, continues to operate normally and deliver products, as is ExxonMobil's Gravenchon refinery, sources said.

Staff at ExxonMobil's Fos refinery has been joining the strike on and off, with deliveries partly affected.

Some ports and oil terminals remain blocked, with operations and product deliveries disrupted, the union said.

The CGT union on Tuesday called for renewed industrial action on December 12 and 17.

France has stocks of crude oil and oil products sufficient to cover three months' demand, according to local media reports.

As MRC wrote earlier, staff at seven of France's eight refineries joined a general strike Thursday, affecting oil product deliveries. Thus, Total reported difficulties in accessing its terminals at the Gonfreville, Grandpuits, Donges and Feyzin refineries and La Mede biofuels plant Thursday morning. In addition, access had been difficult to the terminals at Portes-les-Valence and Puget-sur-Argens. Total said, with 200 oil terminals in France, supply to its retail stations had not been affected, despite the blockades. At the same time, ExxonMobil, which operates the Gravenchon refinery near Le Havre and the Fos-sur-Mer plant in the south, said Gravenchon had not been hit by the strike, but there had been a minor impact on road traffic due to external blockades around the site.

We also remind that France's Feyzin refinery was in the process of halting units and the steam cracker was running at reduced rates on 9 October, 2019. Local media had reported earlier that the refinery had been halting operations since Monday, 7 October, due to a strike. The company said it regrets the decision by labor unions to call a strike while discussions were ongoing with refinery staff about a planned indefinite closure of a unit due to lower product demand.

Ethylene and propylene are feedstocks for producing polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP).

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 1,724,670 tonnes in the first ten months of 2019, up by 7% year on year. Shipments of all PE grades increased. The estimated PP consumption in the Russian market in January-October 2019 totalled 1,066,520 tonnes, up by 7% year on year. Supply of block copolymers of propylene (PP block copolymer) and homopolymer of propylene (homopolymer PP) increased, demand for statistical copolymers (PP random copolymer) decreased.
Author:Margaret Volkova
Tags:PP, PE, crude and gaz condensate, PP block copolymer, homopolymer PP, PP random copolymer, propylene, ethylene, petrochemistry, Exxon Mobil, Total Petrochemicals, Russia, France.
Category:General News
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