UpdateLyondellBasell shuts Berre refinery, petchems on strike vote

27 September 2011 15:09  [Source: ICIS news]

(releads and updates throughout)

By Franco Capaldo and Nigel Davis

LyondellBasellLONDON (ICIS)--LyondellBasell is being forced to shut its refinery and petrochemicals site at Berre L’Etang in France after workers at the facility on Tuesday voted to strike, the Netherlands-headquartered company said.

Industrial action was triggered after LyondellBasell announced it intends to close the 105,000 bbl/day refinery at Berre, having failed to find a buyer for the asset, affecting about 370 jobs.

“Employees at the refinery have voted to go on strike,” said company spokesman David Harpole. “The indication we have been given is that the strike will involve all workers at the site,” he added.

The company is now proceeding with an orderly shutdown of all its units at Berre, Harpole said. “We do expect to hear back from the union in the next day or two and we will work to begin a dialogue,” he added.

“At this time we do not want to speculate on the timing of a restart of the refinery or of the petrochemicals units.”

Harpole also stressed that the announcement made earlier on Tuesday was only to cease operations at the refinery and added that overall, the olefins and polymer plants would not be impacted by the refinery closure.

“Our objective is to preserve approximately 900 jobs at the Berre site,” he said.

The refinery is operated by LyondellBasell subsidiary Compagnie Petrochimique de Berre. The petrochemical assets include a steam cracker and “world-scale” polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE) plants, owned and operated by another subsidiary.

The refinery closure will not affect depot operations or the petrochemical plants and third-party facilities at Berre, the company added.

LyondellBasell forerunner Basell agreed at the end of 2005 to buy the former Shell refinery at Berre L’Etang for $700m (€518m) to provide greater upstream integration for its co-located petrochemical assets.

LyondellBasell said in May this year that it was seeking a buyer for the refinery. Analysts estimated at the time that the company might achieve $500m from the sale. 

The site is also host to several other chemical companies and is one of the largest petrochemical complexes in southern Europe.

($1 = €0.74)

For more on LyondellBasell visit ICIS company intelligence

By: Franco Capaldo
+44 (0)20 8652 3214

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