October 14, 2010 at 3:10 pm #2500
Strikes over pensions paralyse French oil refining
Reuters – October 14, 2010
By Mathilde Cru and Gus Trompiz
PARIS – Nationwide strikes paralysed oil refining in France on Thursday, with all 12 plants disrupted and the government trying to reassure the public about fuel supply as panic buying led to brief shortages at petrol stations.
A strike at Fos Lavera entered its 18th day on Thursday — the longest on record at the key Mediterranean oil port — while workers at most refineries were also on strike as part of stoppages across the country that began on Tuesday over government pension reforms.
Unions called on Thursday for a fresh day of strikes and protests on October 19 as the pension bill neared adoption. Oil lobby UFIP increased pressure on the authorities to intervene, calling on Thursday for strategic stocks to be used.
The government agreed to make some commercial stocks available for road haulage but said it was not tapping strategic reserves and called on motorists to avoid panic buying after demand at the pumps surged by 50 percent in the past two days.
Striking workers were blocking fuel supplies at nine of the country’s 12 oil refineries and seven plants were in the process of shutting down, union officials said. “The situation is hardening. People are no longer even asking themselves whether to continue the movement,” a union official at Total’s Grandpuits refinery told Reuters by telephone.
Exxon Mobil’s refinery at Port Jerome, the only plant that had been running normally earlier on Thursday, was in turn disrupted, with a spokesman saying a strike by oil workers at the port of Le Havre was causing supply problems.
Disruption was also growing in the gas sector, with workers staying on strike at several LNG gas terminals. At the gas terminal of Montoir port on the Atlantic coast, workers would block an incoming tanker and expected gas supplies from the site to the national grid to stop on Saturday, they said.
GASOLINE TESTS FRESH HIGHS
Benchmark European gasoline prices rose to fresh 5-1/2 month highs, just shy of testing the $780 mark due to the prolonged strikes in France and maintenance work at Royal Dutch Shell’s Pernis site, Europe’s largest refinery, in Rotterdam, traders said.
Premium unleaded gasoline also tested 5-1/2 month highs during Wednesday trade, rallying to trade at $785 to $789 a tonne. Some petrol stations in France reported brief shortages on Wednesday, partly caused by panic buying by motorists, as UFIP predicted possible local supply shortages at the pumps by the middle of next week.
Speaking on news channel LCI, transport minister Dominique Bussereau did not comment on the strategic stocks but said there was enough supply provided motorists avoided panic buying.
“There will be no shortages of fuel at the pumps,” Transport Secretary Dominique Bussereau told LCI television. “We have what it takes for at least a month without any problems. France’s strategic fuel reserves, representing three months’ supply, were last used in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina in the United States disrupted international supply.
A diesel trader said product was coming into France from Germany and Italy. The International Energy Agency said on Wednesday that European refinery utilisation was only at 82 percent right now, which meant supplies could be increased elsewhere within the region to deal with a disruption.
October 14, 2010 at 3:10 pm #5471
Here is update on French Nationwide strike on impact to Oil Refining where only 1 out 12 plants are operating normally. The strike is in its 18th day & has previously hit French Gas, Nuclear & Power industry, along with French Ports with same impact now reported in oil sector. Even if refineries were operating normally Ports like Marseille oil terminals are blocked from getting crude. As article mentions France never got its Strategic reserves back after 2006 US Katrina Huricane impact caused depetion – so even shift mentioned to other regions to offset Strike will have Crude & Diesel impacts in EU & US domestic and export markets.
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