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French port strike threatens oil refinery closures


French port strike threatens oil refinery closures


A strike at a French Mediterranean oil terminal means dozens of tankers have been waiting over two weeks to unload. As a result some European refineries, which have already reduced operations, say they will soon have to shut down. The strike is against a decision by Gaz de France not to employ dock workers to hook up liquefied natural gas carriers at a new GDF terminal.

Speaking after another round off deadlocked talks between unions and GDF, the company’s Jean-Marc Leroy said: “We believe that this work must be done by specialists from the owners and operators of the liquefied gas terminal. That’s the way it is done in every liquefied natural gas terminal in the world”

The oil that is unloaded at the Fos Lavera hub is refined locally or sent through pipelines to refineries all over France, as well as in Germany and Switzerland. Marseille is the world’s third largest port handling crude shipments. Because refined oil is turned into petrol and then sent by tanker to the US this strike is threatening to reduce summer fuel supplies in the United States.

Half of France’s 12 refineries get their oil from Fos Lavera and say they could close by next Wednesday halting fuel supplies to millions of French motorists. The strike is costing oil firms 375,000 euros each day in compensation penalties – money they have to pay shippers when tankers are blocked and unable to unload.

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