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French Refinery Strikes Worsen As France Moves To Call Back Essential Workers

France said on Tuesday that it would requisition essential workers to staff Exxon’s French oil depot, and threatened to do the same for Total’s French refineries if talks failed to progress. But workers at Total’s Donges refinery decided on Tuesday to strike beginning on Wednesday, French union CGT said.

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Tuesday that the government would start the callback process for ExxonMobil’s staff at its oil depots in the country after talks between the oil company and two unions, CGT and FO, stalled. The CFDT union, however, managed on Monday to reach an agreement with Exxon.

“Today some unions, despite the deal, wants to continue the strike action and blockades, we cannot accept that,” Borne said, according to Argus media.

Those comments followed weekend comments by the country’s energy minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher that the government was
“doing its utmost to restore the situation to normal as soon as possible.”

The CGT and FO unions declared strikes weeks ago at Total’s 246,900 bpd Gonfreville and 109,300 bpd Feyzin refineries, along with the Carling petrochemicals plant. The FO Now, ExxonMobil’s 219,000 bpd Donges refinery is being added to the list. The FO union had workers striking at Exxon’s 235,000 bpd Fos-Sur-Mer refinery, as well as its 270,000 bpd Port Jerome refinery, but FO called off its strike action on Monday, Argus said.

The additional striking action comes just as France prepares to order some essential workers back to the workplace.

More than half of the country’s refinery capacity has been offline as many of the country’s gas stations suffer widespread gasoline and diesel outages. On Monday, the CGT trade union rejected an offer from TotalEnergies, which had offered to bring forward negotiations if the union called off the strike.

By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

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