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Some French refineries blocked by strike, runs reduced

London — Oil product deliveries remain disrupted Wednesday from a number of French refineries as staff extended the strike.

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While trucks are often being prevented from leaving the refineries, they are all operating, according to French oil industry association UFIP President Francis Duseux in an interview broadcast on France Info radio.

However, the refineries hit by industrial action are operating at reduced rates, a CGT labor union source said. Supply remains intermittent from Total's Donges, Grandpuits, Feyzin and La Mede sites and Petroineos' Lavera, where staff has extended a strike until the government changes its plans for the pension reform, the source said.

French labor unions, including the CGT, FO and FSU, have called on employees in all sectors to take part in industrial action against the government's pension reforms. The industrial action, which started December 5, has been extended several times, with a renewed call for nationwide protests on Thursday.

The strike has been suspended at Total's Gonfreville refinery where a fire on December 14 led to the shutdown of a crude distillation unit. The refinery is operating partially.

So far, there has been limited impact on truck and rail loadings at Fos sur Mer, but operations are normal with no strike action at ExxonMobil's Gravenchon refinery in Normandy, the company said.

For now, traders and analysts see a greater potential impact from the outage at Gonfreville, where repairs could take several weeks, than from the industrial action. The CDU shutdown has resulted in a rise in diesel imports into France.

Middle distillate cracks rose to a one-month high Tuesday partly in reaction to increased demand for diesel into France. Last week, the impact of the industrial action on the diesel market was fairly limited.

Of France's 200 oil terminals, only four have been blocked by strikers, and around 1% of the 11,000 retail stations have faced product shortages, according to UFIP.

Loadings have resumed at the Fluxel-operated Fos and Lavera oil terminals in the Mediterranean though another strike has been called by the unions for Thursday.

--Elza Turner, elza.turner@spglobal.com; Virginie Malicier, virginie.malicier@spglobal.com; Chris To, chris.to@spglobal.com

--Edited by Jonathan Dart, newsdesk@spglobal.com