EXCLUSIVE: Staff at BP Rotterdam refinery to strike

12 Nov 2022

Quantum Commodity Intelligence - Industrial action at one of Europe's largest oil refineries is set to start on Monday after British oil giant BP rejected the salary demands from Dutch unions representing works in Rotterdam, the unions told Quantum.

The ultimatum submitted by BP workers at the 400,000 bpd Rotterdam refinery is set to expire on Monday at 1200 local time, after which the two unions will start their action.

The refinery is a key diesel producer in northern Europe, with the unions' actions fuelling a potential new wave of diesel shortages.

"BP Rotterdam Refinery has responded to the ultimatum and finds the demand from the BP employees unacceptable and not in line with the market," the FNV and CNV unions said in a statement on Saturday.

The two unions, which represent 440 of 730 workers employed at the site, demanded a 6% pay increase backdated to April this year and a three-year share match program worth 3.35%.

BP had offered a 5% pay increase last month, which the unions had already rejected.

"BP is sticking to its position. That is also our conclusion and we have not yet been invited to discuss our demands. Our actions, and those of the employees, will go ahead as planned," Jaap Bosma, CNV's chief negotiator, told Quantum.

At the start of this month, the unions held a meeting at the refinery's gates, during which 90% of the 300 employees present voted to strike if BP does not improve its 5% pay offer.

While the unions are still discussing the specifics of their planned actions, they will decide on the "most effective [ones] to exert maximum pressure" and will likely delay the planned restart of key diesel-producing units.

Parts of the site went into planned turnaround at the start of last month and have already missed their expected restart earlier this month due to other delays.

The planned strike will further starve Europe of domestically produced diesel, just three months ahead of the EU ban on Russian diesel imports and will likely support prices and overseas imports.

French unions crippled two-thirds of French refining capacity at its peak during a one-month-long strike in October, boosting diesel cracks to above $70/b, Quantum data showed, as TotalEnergies scrambled to divert diesel cargoes.

British oil major BP reported $8.2 billion in third-quarter profits last week, with refining margins hitting $35.50/b across the group amid high prices and tight product markets.

BP did not respond to a request for comment.