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London — * Total's refineries all on strike
* ExxonMobil says Gravenchon, Fos ops not affected
* Govt says three days' strategic stocks out of 115 used up: report

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Strikes are continuing at French refineries and ports Wednesday and fuel storage sites remain blockaded across the country as France began to delve into its strategic stocks to avoid fuel shortages.

Total's refineries are all on strike with operations either halted or in the process of halting, according to the CGT labor union and the company.

A limited number of employees have joined the national movement at ExxonMobil's Gravenchon, but operations and supply of products are not affected, the company said. At ExxonMobil's Fos refinery, operations are also running normally and some loadings were proceeding during the night but have been blockaded this morning.

Article Continues below...

The French government said it had started using strategic stocks, with three days' worth out of 115 used up to now, radio station Europe1 cited the country's transport minister as saying.

To avoid fuel shortages the government had started using strategic stocks, industry group UFIP said in a statement.

France currently has strategic stocks sufficient to cover demand for three months, of which crude represents one third, UFIP also said, adding that stocks used to cover shortages in one location where storages are blocked are subsequently replenished elsewhere.

The French government said it had started using strategic stocks, with three days' worth of stocks out of 115 used up to now, radio Europe1 cited the transport minister as saying.

Europe1 also quoted the government as saying that blockades had been removed at 11 storages. Police intervened to unblock storages at Fos-sur-Mer in the south and Douchy-les-Mines in the north, the station reported.

After intervention by the government to unblock storage sites, the Federation of Dock and Port workers at the CGT called on all port staff to stop work for 48 hours on Thursday and Friday. Tug boats will stop working across France Thursday morning, shipping sources said.

The oil terminals Fos and Lavera at the Mediterranean port of Marseilles have been on strike since May 23, shipping sources said.

Congestion at the terminals was moderate, according to shipping sources. But according to French media, the number of blocked tankers is rising, and already amounts to 29. Out of them the majority are chemical tankers, according to Platts trade flow software cFlow. There are five crude and seven product tankers, cFlow data showed.

The terminals serve Total's La Mede and Feyzin refineries, ExxonMobil's Fos and Petroineos' Lavera. The latter has been running at reduced rates due to the strike but also because of maintenance, sources said.

The Naphthachimie cracker at Lavera has also stopped and the cracker at Berre is running at reduced rates as the port closure is expected to affect naphtha supplies, a shipping source said.

The Federation of Chemical Industry Workers has also called a widespread strike across the whole country in sympathy with the oil sector in response to the police intervention.

--Staff, newsdesk@platts.com

--Edited by Jonathan Loades-Carter, jonathan.carter@spglobal.com