It is estimated that by today, Monday, four out of France’s six refineries will shut down as strikes escalate after French President Emmanuel Macron pushed through with a controversial pension reform without a vote in Parliament.
Earlier last week, the president pushed to pass the reform without a vote in Parliament under a parliamentary clause known as 49:3.
The pension reform proposes to raise the retirement age in France by two years to 64. Macron’s move without a parliamentary vote sparked even more protests and street blockades in Paris and other cities in the country.
The strikes in France against the reform began in February and escalated this month, with workers in many sectors, including refinery workers, joining the industrial action.
Refinery workers told Argus last Friday that the strikes have disrupted power supply, refining operations, and fuel deliveries for nearly two weeks.
Now most of France’s refineries are expected be closed down by March 20, also because of a lack of crude deliveries due to strikes among port workers which prevent the discharging of crude cargoes.
Two refineries run by supermajor TotalEnergies, the 219,000 bpd Donges and the 246,900 bpd Gonfreville refineries, as well as ExxonMobil’s 207,100 bpd Port Jerome facility and the 210,000 bpd Lavera refinery of Petroineos are all expected to be shut down by Monday, workers tell Argus.
In ExxonMobil’s case, it is said that the refinery is stopping operations because it lacks the crude needed to keep the facility running.
Apart from refining operations, the strikes have disrupted LNG imports into France as LNG import terminals have been shut down. France has four LNG receiving terminals, Dunkirk, Montoir, Fos Cavaou, and Fos Tonkin.
As the strikes entered their second week, at least seven LNG cargoes heading to France have changed course and are now headed to import terminals in the Netherlands, the UK, and Spain since the strikes started.
By Ken Okoye