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Massive Strikes In France Block Exxon Oil Refinery

Exxon’s refinery at Fos-sur-Mer in France was blocked by a strike of union workers on Tuesday as part of a massive French strike against a proposed pension reform, and shipments at the 140,000-barrels-per-day refinery are also blocked, the French unit of the U.S. supermajor told Reuters on Tuesday.

The month-long strikes in France against the government’s plan for a pension reform have now reached oil refineries around the country, but officials and oil companies say there will be no shortage of fuel.

According to the CGT trade union, its unionized workers at Exxon’s Fos-sur-Mer and Port Jerome have decided to go on strike.

The Fos-sur-Mer refinery was blocked on Tuesday while Port Jerome, which has a processing capacity of 240,000 bpd, was operating normally early today, Exxon France told Reuters.

Fos-sur-Mer accounts for 10 percent of France’s refinery production, while the Port Jerome refinery processes 20 percent of the French refinery output.

The CGT union has called for a “total blockade” of all oil refineries across France to force the government to withdraw plans to amend the pension system.

The trade union has called for the blockade to begin on Tuesday, January 7, through Friday, January 10, so that no refined product would come out of any French refinery for 96 hours, one of the union’s leaders at French oil major Total, Thierry Defresne, told French radio station Franceinfo.

Defresne told Reuters that seven out of the eight refineries in France would be on strike for those 96 hours, and workers would not allow any shipments of refined products to come out of the refineries.

Meanwhile, Total said on Monday, ahead of the massive strike, that it did not expect fuel shortages, as its gas stations are well stocked.

While the trade union insists that it will block fuel supplies out of refineries, an industry source told Reuters that France imports around 50 percent of the fuel which is sold in the country, so the impact of a massive strike would not be as severe as it would have been if all products were processed domestically.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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