29 October 2010 17:07 [Source: ICIS news]
(adds news on end of port strike and refinery restarts throughout)
LONDON (ICIS)--Striking by Marseille’s Fos-Lavera oil port workers, which had blocked vital crude oil from reaching French refineries, has now ended, allowing plants nationwide to resume production and return to normal throughput levels, energy groups said on Friday.
Strike action at Fos-Lavera, which began on 27 September over guarantees of job security during port reforms, had left dozens of oil tankers blocked in front of terminals, forcing most of the refineries supplied by the port to halt production.
LyondellBasell confirmed that workers at Fos-Lavera had voted in Friday’s general assembly to go back to work on Friday evening. Group spokesman David Harpole said that LyondellBasell had now begun making plans for a restart at its Berre L'Etang refinery, which had been prevented from restarting by the constrained crude oil shipments.
“The timing of the restart will be dependant on the schedule for the unloading of ships,” Harpole said.
Earlier in the day, workers at the Le Havre oil terminal in northern ?xml:namespace>
ExxonMobil said that a restart was under way at its merged Port Jerome-Gravenchon refinery, which is supplied crude from
ExxonMobil employees were all now back at work after returning to the group’s Fos-sur-Mer plant last weekend and its Port Jerome-Gravenchon refinery on Monday.
Brun said the refinery at Fos-sur-Mer was still running at minimum throughput levels, although she added that ExxonMobil hoped to ramp up production now the strike at the Fos-Lavera oil port had ended.
In addition, Total said that strikes were now over at the energy group’s plants at Donges, Feyzin, Grandpuits and
Earlier in the day, Total said that strikes at its plant at Gonfreville, which is supplied from the Le Harve oil terminal, had ended and that deliveries of crude should resume shortly.
"In Gonfreville, we are also at the very early stages of restarting refining operations,” said Total spokesperson Michael Crochet-Vourey.
Crochet-Vourey added that workers at Total’s refinery at La Mede were also at the very early stages of restarting operations, after protests at the plant ended on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, workers at INEOS's Lavera refinery in southeast
Sources said the earliest possible date for normal production to resume would be 6 November.
The nationwide demonstrations against president Nicolas Sarkozy’s contested plans to increase the retirement age from 60 to 62, which was approved by France's National Assembly on Wednesday, had caused massive supply disruptions and panic-buying at gasoline stations across the country.
The vote in the National Assembly was the bill's final step before Sarkozy signs it into law next month.
Union leaders have said that even if the bill was passed they would continue to protest in other ways.
Refinery shutdowns have seriously affected downstream users, with a variety of chemical producers suffering from a lack of refined feedstock, and although the protest movement had lost much of its momentum in recent days, workers at a number of refineries have continued to strike.
Additional reporting by Amandeep Parmar and Heidi Finch
($1 = €0.72)
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