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Strike cuts French power supply, halts refinery shipments

Strike cuts French power supply, halts refinery shipments
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By Reuters
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PARIS -A nationwide strike against pension reform in France led to a substantial fall in electricity output and halted deliveries from refineries operated by TotalEnergies and Esso on Thursday.

EDF and grid operator RTE data showed electricity production was down by 7.8 Gigawatts (GW), roughly 12% of total power supply, which they said was due to the strike, prompting France to raise its imports from Britain, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and Spain.

EDF's outage table showed a 4.5 GW nuclear supply reduction at eight reactors, 460 megawatts (MW) of reduced hydropower and 2.8 GW of lower thermal production.

"Nuclear stations are ... likely to ramp up to ensure grid stability during the day. This is how strikes work in France : strikers are not allowed to put security of supply at risk," analyst Emeric de Vigan said.

French grid operator RTE told Reuters it had requested unions end production cuts from all energy sources at 0530 GMT. The request is usually withdrawn after morning peak consumption, RTE added.

Meanwhile, deliveries of refined oil products were blocked from leaving refineries operated by TotalEnergies, the company said.

The CGT union expects that at least 70% of its refinery sector employees at TotalEnergies' four refining sites have joined the strike in opposition to government plan to raise the retirement age by two years to 64, a CGT representative said.

There would be no disruption to fuel supplies at service stations from one day of strikes, TotalEnergies has said. The CGT refineries federation has called for a single day of strike this week and further walkouts next week and the week after.

A debate on the renewal of the refinery strike is not expected today but will be proposed down the line, the union representative said.

"For the moment we're sticking to our (strike) schedule. Depending on how the situation in the country evolves, and if employees don't want to stop the strike, there could be an extension," Eric Sellini, CGT coordinator for the company, said.

Shipments were also blocked at Esso's Fos site, but work was continuing at the Port Jerome site, a union official said.

CGT union boss Philippe Martinez said Thursday marked just the first day of strikes and that there would be more.

Trade unions have called on workers across the public and private sector to walk out on their jobs and take to the streets in protest against government's plans.

The government has said it will stand its ground and called on workers not to paralyse the country.

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