All units at BP Rotterdam restart but throughput reduced until vote

2 Dec 2022

Quantum Commodity Intelligence – All units at the 400,000-bpd Rotterdam refinery are being restarted after BP agreed to the union’s salary demands, but crude oil throughput will remain “minimal” until workers vote on the proposal next Wednesday.

One of the largest refineries in Europe was shut down two weeks ago due to an unexpected steam outage, and workers only partially restarted the plant as part of ongoing work-to-rule action and as salary negotiations were ongoing.

BP’s Rotterdam management agreed on Friday to the salary demand set out by the CNV union, with that proposal being voted on by union members next Wednesday, the union said in a statement on Friday.

“The results will be announced on Wednesday evening. Until then, the units will continue to be started up with a minimal throughput,” it said.

A BP spokesperson confirmed the restart saying: "we are resuming operations of the remaining installations at our refinery."

The union had demanded a 6% pay increase backdated to April, a €4,000 one-off bonus and a three-year share match program – which allows workers to benefit from BP's profits – after inflation in the Netherlands hit 14.3%.

“BP makes gold from high fuel prices. Of course, they don't want to jeopardize that income by denying their own people who make it possible a decent wage increase,” CNV’s chief negotiator Jaap Bosma said.

BP, which had called those demands “unacceptable and not in line with the market” just three weeks ago, agreed to the union’s demand on Friday.

Workers had already restarted one of two crude distillation units (CDUs) last weekend ahead of this week’s talks, while it had kept the Fluid Catalytic Cracking (FCC) unit, which produces light ends such as gasoline, offline.

The refinery is a key supplier of diesel and other refined oil products to northwest Europe, and has been running at 150,000 bpd this week, FGE analysts estimated.