TotalEnergies suspends product shipments on strike, says supply uninterrupted

19 Jan 2023

Quantum Commodity Intelligence – TotalEnergies has suspended product shipments from its French sites Thursday amid a series of national strikes over pension reforms, but insisted supplies to its customers would not be affected.

Striking oil workers plan to block deliveries and operations at several of Total’s French refineries and fuel depots Thursday, in a repeat of action last year that brought the industry to a near-standstill.   

“Following the strike call, product shipments from TotalEnergies sites are suspended today but TotalEnergies will continue to supply its service station network and its customers,” Total said in an emailed statement Thursday.

Total’s CEO told French media the evening before the strikes that a single day of strikes would have no impact on refinery operations, but this could change if strikes lasted longer.

Partrick Pouyanne told BFM TV that refineries will remain operational in the even of action, but conceded that striking workers “can decide to block shipments which can prevent the trucks from rolling."

Oil workers’ union CGT said Thursday that action had taken place during the morning shifts at several of Total’s French sites, including the La Mède bio-refinery, its Dunkirk fuel depot and petrochemical plant in Moselle, as well as the 230,000 bpd refinery at Donges and 119,000 bpd Feyzin plant.

Speaking to local media at one of the demonstrations, CGT spokesman Eric Sellini said action was also taking place at ExxonMobil’s 140,000 bpd refinery at Fos-Sur-Mer.

French officials have been quick to reassure the public there would not be a repeat of last year’s fuel shortages, amid reports of stockbuilding by consumers ahead of Thursday’s action.

Months-long strikes at several of France’s refineries and depots crippled its oil industry in October and November last year, and helped tighten product supply for the whole of northwest Europe.

The CGT union announced last week a 24-hour stoppage on January 19th to coincide with national action over President Macron’s pension reforms, and further action including a 48-hour strike on January 26th, followed by a 72-hour strike on February 6th.