France s top oil refinery is set to halt because of a workers strike over pay, a latest hit to the nation s fuelmaking capacity from the weeklong industrial action.
According to a union official, TotalEnergies SE is halting its refinery in Normandy. The step means almost two-thirds of the nation's oil processing is now offline or severely impacted by strikes or recent fires. Exxon Mobil Corp., whose plants are also affected, said it slowed fuel supplies.
The dispute highlights the tensions that have been bubbling up in the wake of a cost-of-living crisis that stretches far beyond France's borders. The unions are trying to make a bigger share of profits that oil companies made from soaring energy prices.
The Normandy shutdown means France's two biggest refineries, both of which are located near the port of Le Havre, will be out of service due to strikes. Exxon already halted its nearby Gravenchon, as well as a smaller refinery in the south.
It means there will be almost no refining capacity in northern France, although the region can also take in cargoes by sea.
Exxon France said in response to questions about whether it was curbing fuel supplies and that they are working with our independent distributors and wholesale fuels customers to meet consumer demand for fuel. Efforts are under way to supply products from unaffected sources. Read more: France is hit by Strikes Over Pay at Multiple Oil Refineries after a Strikes Over Pay In Many Oil Refineries.
The process of shutting down Normandy will last a few days, according to Thierry Defresne, secretary of the European workers committee at Total and an official at CGT. Local residents were alerted that refinery and petrochemical units in Normandy were taken offline, according to online alerts.
The longer the action lasts, the greater the damage it can do to France as it struggles with a larger surge in energy costs. Russia has cut gas flows to Europe, and the nation s nuclear reactors are set to undergo more work this winter than previously planned. Both developments have resulted in a spike in energy prices across the continent.
A prolonged strike could have serious consequences for France's retail fuel prices, which have fallen sharply from their peak earlier this year, due to declines in oil prices and fuel markets elsewhere in the world.
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