French strikes shut all five of Total's working refineries
Total oil group said Wednesday that strikes by its workers over pension reforms were forcing it to shut down its five working refineries in France.
But a spokesman for Total, from which half of France's petrol stations get their supplies, said that "there is no fuel supply problem because the depots are full."
He said the firm was starting to shut down its refineries because unions decided to renew a strike they called Tuesday as part of a nationwide protest against pension reform that saw more than a million take to the streets.
CGT union representative at Total, Charles Foulard, warned that "we are hardening our stance" at the refineries, which take several days to fully shut down and several more days to resume production.
Total has six refineries across France but the one near Dunkirk in the north has not produced fuel products since last year and is currently used as a stocking facility.
At least 11 of mainland France's 12 refineries were affected by Tuesday's strike, including the six run by Total. Eight, including those belonging to Total, were still disrupted Wednesday by strike action.
Four affected refineries are situated near Berre in southeastern France, where activity has been disrupted for the past two weeks due to an ongoing strike at oil terminals at the Mediterranean port of Marseille.
Dozens of oil tankers and cargo ships have been stuck waiting outside the ports as the strike, first launched in protest at reform of the port sector, spread to affect all port activities.
The stoppage at the oil terminals had already caused diesel supplies to run out on the Mediterranean island of Corsica.
© 2010 AFP