Total Postpones Restart of Donges Refinery Unit Due to Strike

Reuters, January 16, 2020

French energy major Total has postponed the restart of a distillation unit at its 220,000-barrel-per-day Donges Refinery until Friday due to a nationwide strike over planned pensions reform, the company said on Wednesday. Total, which operates five of France’s seven refineries, said shipments of refined products from Donges were suspended on Tuesday for 72 hours due to the strike action. It said production was continuing at its other refineries - Normandy, Grandpuits, Feyzin and La Mede - but shipments of refined products from refineries to depots were on hold.

Total halted the distillation unit at Donges on the west coast of France on Sunday due to lack of oil supply after a blockade by port workers prevented crude deliveries to the refinery. A union official said earlier on Wednesday that workers had voted to prolong the strike at the refinery. French energy sector workers have said they will intensify actions in the sector this week to pressure the government to drop the planned reform.

Separately, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said in a speech that public transport unions’ strikes against the pension reform “will go nowhere, the government is determined.” Workers and national railway SNCF and Paris metro RATP have been on strike since Dec. 5, causing severe disruption in the longest transport walkout for decades. Philippe’s office, in a statement later on Wednesday, said the transport strike action had so far cost the RATP nearly 200 million euros and the SNCF around 850 million euros.

(Reporting by Bate Felix and Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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