UpdateUnion considers strike as Total confirms refinery closure

08 March 2010 17:11  [Source: ICIS news]

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Total announces Dunkirk refinery closureLONDON (ICIS news)--French Union CGT said there was a possibility of further strike action following Total's announcement on Monday that its refining operations at Dunkirk in France would be permanently closed.

A union spokesperson said it was disappointed that Total’s new “repurposing” plan, which outlined intentions to open new business ventures at the site, had not included any industrial projects or propositions to restart refinery operations.

The French unions would meet on Wednesday to decide whether to take further industrial action over Total’s announcement, the spokesperson said.

Last month, around 7,000 direct employees, suppliers and subcontractors at Total’s French refineries went on strike for a week to demand a restart of the Dunkirk site.

Total said that the collapse in petroleum product demand in France, Europe and the United States had compelled it to adjust its refining capacity, in particular in northern France.

“The Flandres refinery reported a loss of more than €130m ($177m) in 2009. Production was halted in September 2009. Given the poor outlook, resuming refining operations at the site is no longer considered viable," the company said in a statement.

“Under the plan, the Flandres refinery will be shut down permanently, resulting in a gradual dismantling of units that could continue into 2013,” it added.

Total said it planned to open an operations support centre, a refining training centre and a logistics depot at the site. In addition, it would also study the possibility of maintaining an existing ethyl tertiary butyl ether (ETBE) unit, and said it had also signed an agreement with energy company EDF to participate in its planned Dunkirk LNG terminal.

The company stressed there would be no job losses, saying it would retain two-thirds of employees at the site with the remainder either redeployed to other Total facilities or offered early retirement.

($1 = €0.73)

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