MOSCOW (MRC) -- Oil workers from the hardline French CGT union voted on Friday to shut down production at Total's Normandy refinery and to prolong the strike at Grandpuits refinery for 72 hours, a union official said, reported Hydrocarbonprocessing.
The vote, aimed at pressuring the socialist government of President Francoise Hollande to withdraw a labor reform bill which the unions consider as unfavorable to workers, could stoke concerns over refined products supply in France.
A prolonged strike at refineries in France in 2010 led to a glut of crude in Europe because it could not be delivered to refineries, and a spike in refined products prices due to low output from refineries.
Total's five refineries in France have already been running at "minimum output" since May 17, a CGT union official told Reuters on Thursday, after oil sector workers decided to join the rolling protest that began in March.
The union members at the refineries met on Friday to decide whether to halt production at the refineries.
"In Normandy, 56% voted for a complete shutdown of the refinery and in Grandpuits, they voted to prolong the strike for 72 hours," CGT delegate Thierry Defrense, told Reuters.
Defrense said workers were in talks with the refinery's management on the shutdown process which could take up to five days, and given that a restart could also take up to four days, he said the 198,600-bpd Normandy refinery could be out for up to 12 days.
He said Total's management could decide to also halt production at the 102,000-bpd Grandpuits refinery, where output had been cut in the past days and reservoirs were full due to a blockade by striking workers preventing supplies from leaving.
Defrense said workers were still meeting at Donges, La Mede and Feyzin refineries. He added CGT Union workers in Le Havre port were blocking a crude storage facility, preventing imports.
Another CGT union official said on Friday the goal of the strike was not to create (fuel) shortages but to obtain the withdrawal of the labor bill. However, it has led to supply disruption and shortages in some parts of France.
A Total spokesman said on Thursday although refineries were running normally, it faced supply disruption because striking workers were blockading refineries, and one in five service stations in some areas lacked fuel, including some in Paris.
We remind that, as MRC informed previously, in April 2016, French oil and gas company Total said that its refining margins in Europe had fallen to USD35.1/ton in the first quarter of the year. Europe's biggest refiner still reported a European refining margins indicator (ERMI) of USD38.1/ton in the fourth quarter of 2015, a table showed on its website.
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.