French minister wants 'national action plan' for refiners

Doris Leblond
OGJ Correspondent

PARIS, June 7 -- French Energy Minister Eric Besson called for a June 22 meeting of all refiners in that country to discuss “a national action plan” to deal with industry problems.

That move was sparked by LyondellBasell Industries’ recent decision to sell its 105,000-b/d Berre refinery in southern France. Last year Total SA mothballed its 141,000-b/d Dunkirk refinery, and the shutdown of Petroplus Holdings AG’s 84,800-b/d refinery in Reichstett is pending.

The plan's purpose is to secure the supply of refined products in France, bolster the competitiveness and sustainability of its refining sector, and anticipate necessary restructuring and conversions of refinery facilities in the future.

Besson indicated he would help LyondellBasell through the French Agency for International Investments to find investors for the Berre refinery.

LyonellBasell acquired in 2008 Shell France's Berre refinery integrated within the Compagnie Petrochimique de Berre SAS complex. However, the return on LyonellBasell's investment fell short of expectations. Squeezed margins and strikes at the Marseilles-Fos port further eroded its profitability.

General Manager Jean Gadbois said sale of the refinery would help LyondellBasell “concentrate on petrochemicals, which was the heart of its business.”

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