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Total may close French refinery unit

September 03/2013

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Total SA (FP) Chief Executive Officer Christophe de Margerie raised the possibility that the countrys biggest oil company is planning an overhaul amid speculation over the future of its petrochemicals operations, according to Bloomberg.

An employee meeting has been called for Sept. 4 to discuss Totals petrochemicals strategy as well as a future project for its Carling plant in northern France, de Margerie said. He told a panel discussion the company may restructure its French operations.

He declined to comment further on Carling, citing French law under which changes that may affect jobs must first be given to workers at meetings like the one planned for next week.

"Total could announce a plan to halt the steam cracker" at Carling, Eric Sellini, the CGT union coordinator at the French oil company, said by telephone. "I dont think the whole site will be shut but we just dont know."

Total, which gets most of its earnings from oil and natural gas production, has struggled to boost profits at its refining and petrochemicals divisions in recent years. The explorer unveiled an overhaul in 2011 to merge crude processing and petrochemicals and separate out fuel marketing.

"Total, like others, will have to carry out" a restructuring in France, de Margerie said during a panel discussion at a meeting of the employers group known as Medef.

Europes third-largest oil company has already reduced European refining through the closing of its plant near Dunkirk in France, capacity reduction at Normandy and the sale of its 49 percent stake in Spains Cia. Espanola de Petroleos SA. Total has also tried and failed to sell its Lindsey plant in the U.K.

The Carling plant, which makes petrochemicals such as ethylene and propylene at the site near the German border, employs 350 Total workers as well as sub-contractors, Sellini said. These chemicals are used to make plastics.

Total has four steam crackers in France, including units at the Gonfreville, Feyzin and Lavera refineries. The company cut jobs at Carling in a plan announced in 2009.

As MRC reported earlier, Total has signed a final agreement to sell TIGF, a regional gas pipeline network, to a group comprising Italy's Snam, Singaporean sovereign fund GIC, and French state-controlled power utility Electricite de France. TIGF was put up for sale last autumn as part of a wider strategy to sell EUR20 billion of assets by 2015 to help boost its cash flow and finance substantial investments.

Total S.A. is a French multinational oil and gas company and one of the six "Supermajor" oil companies in the world with business in Europe, the United States, the Middle East and Asia. The company's petrochemical products cover two main groups: base chemicals and the consumer polymers (polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene) that are derived from them.
Author:Margaret Volkova
Tags:PP, PS, PE, propylene, ethylene, neftehimiya, Total Petrochemicals, France.
Category:General News
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