By Bate Felix
PARIS, May 27 (Reuters) – French CGT union members at the CIM, an oil storage and supply services company which handles about 40 percent of French crude imports, have voted to extend their strike at the port terminal until Monday, a union official told Reuters.
CIM, at Le Havre, France’s second-biggest oil port, has not been able to deliver crude to refineries and products through the Trapil pipeline since Tuesday after workers joined a nationwide rolling strike against planned labour reforms.
“The strike has been extended until midday on Monday,” Mathias Jeanne, a CGT official said by phone, adding that 85 percent of their 150 members among 260 staff voted to extend the strike.
He said members will meet again on Monday to decide the next step.
“If the government does not budge, we are ready to take it to the end,” he said.
CIM is central to France’s oil sector with 2.4 million cubic metres of crude storage capacity and 1.7 million cubic metres of refined products storage capacity including jet fuel, diesel, petrol and naphtha at Le Havre.
It supplies nearby Exxon Mobil’s 240,000 barrel-per-day Port Jerome – Gravenchon refinery, one of three out of eight refineries in France that has not been halted due to the strike.
CIM also supplies jet fuel to Paris Aeroport which manages the three main airports in the French capital Roissy, Orly and Le Bourget. A spokesman said on Thursday that Paris Aeroport still had stocks to last another week.
The strike by oil sector CGT workers has led to refinery shut downs, blockade of fuel depots, fuel supply disruption and a backlog of several dozen oil tankers at the two main French oil ports at Le Havre and Fos-Lavera.
French oil and gas company Total said on Friday that four of its five refineries in France had been completely shut down due to the strike.
Total, Europe’s largest refiner, said its fifth refinery, the 153,000 barrel-per-day La Mede in the south of France, was still running at reduced output capacity.
It added that fuel supply disruption was easing slightly with some 741 of its petrol stations in France partially or completely out of fuel compared with 784 the previous day. Total controls 2,200 of France’s 11,500 petrol stations.
CGT union workers at Elengy, which operates three liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals in France, also voted on Friday to extend their strike until Monday.
French riot police removed picketers and barricades blocking access to a large fuel distribution depot near the Donges oil refinery in western France as President Francois Hollande warned anti-reform protesters on Friday he would not let them strangle the economy. (Reporting by Bate Felix and Valerie Parent; Editing by Gus Trompiz and Adrian Croft)
Update: Some 38 oil tankers have been held up at the Fos-Lavera oil port in southern France, the country’s biggest, including 25 at harbour, up from 12 the previous day, a port authority spokeswoman said on Friday.
She said 13 other tankers were waiting at quay. Under normal busy operations, at most five vessels wait at harbour.
In the northern port of Le Havre, 11 oil tankers were waiting at harbour and five at quay, a port official told Reuters.
(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2016.