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article imageStrike shuts down six Total oil refineries in France

By Miroslav Kucera     Feb 23, 2010 in Business
Some parts of France have run out of fuel as Total workers shut down six refineries in protest against planned closures. The refineries supply about half of French fuel depots.
In January, oil giant Total announced a plan to shut down a refinery in Dunkirk. Management said the refinery needed to close because of a 44 percent year-on-year decrease in profit. Profits fell as a result of economic crisis.
This decision slashed 370 jobs from people working directly for Total and another 450 subcontractors.
The Dunkirk refinery has been on strike for six weeks and has been joined by another five refineries in Feyzin, Gonfreville-L'Orcher, Donges, Grandpuits and La Mede.
Production in Dunkirk was stopped in September 2009 due to low demand and overcapacity. The refinery has a daily capacity of 137,000 barrels per day which is about 13 percent of Total's refining capacity in France.
The strike has supported the increase in oil prices above 80 dollars a barrel, as Total is the sixth largest oil company in the world.
Total reported 127 of 2,600 stations have run out of fuel.
The President of the French Petroleum Industry Union, Jean-Louis Schilansky, said France's depots can supply fuel for an additional seven to 10 days.
Lately, Total has insisted the Dunkirk plant will not be closed, but they have not confirmed the continuity of refining there.
Workers representative, Christian Votte, said the workers' goal is to maintain refining activities in Dunkirk.
According to communist newspaper L'humanité Total will loose this battle as the strikers should receive assurance from Total management that no refinery will be closed till 2016.
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