Pipeline mishap cuts French port's crude imports

Doris Leblond
OGJ Correspondent

PARIS, Oct. 20 -- There was an “unprecedented drop” in crude imports through Fos-sur-Mer on the French Riviera in September due to an earlier rupture of a Societe de Pipeline du Sud-Ouest oil pipeline connecting the port with Karlsruhe, Germany.

Officials said 4,000 cu m of oil spilled when the underground pipeline burst Aug. 7 on the edge of France's Camargue national park. As a result, oil imports for French refineries fell 41% while imports for foreign refineries dropped 61%. Matters should not improve before mid-December, SPSO spokeswoman Laure Carougeau told OGJ.

The crude shortage has impacted petrochemicals at Total SA’s 119,000 b/d Feyzin refinery in the Rhone Valley and at Petro plus Holdings AG’s 68,000-b/d Cressier refinery in Switzerland where productions fell to a minimum. Production completely ceased at Petroplus’s 77,000-b/d Reichstett refinery in the North of France. Germany's Karlsruhe refinery was also impacted.

Esso Raffinage SA, whose Fos refinery takes its crude directly through its own pipeline, did not suffer any crude shortage, spokesman Emmanuel de Grandrut told OGJ.

Refined products trade through Fos dropped in September by 17%, but this was due to the economic downturn. LPG traffic also fell by 6%. Only LNG trade, despite a 9% drop of imports in September, posted a cumulated 9-month growth of 16%.

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