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Bloomberg: Shell Workers to Protest Plans for French Unit Sales (Update3)

By Fred Pals

Jan. 16 (Bloomberg) — Workers at three French refineries owned by Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe’s largest oil company by market value, may start a “huge strike” in a protest against the possible sale of the facilities.

Workers at the Petit-Couronne, Reichstett-Vendenmheim and the Berre-l’Etang refineries are planning a protest on Jan. 22, the refineries’ unions said in an e-mailed statement today. The plants employ about 3,000 workers, the unions said.

“We will have a little strike on Jan. 22,” Christophe Quarez, a CFDT union delegate, said by phone. “But we may start a huge strike if we don’t get a job guarantee from Shell in the case we’re sold.”

Other oil companies are trimming their European refining networks to concentrate on more profitable regions. BP Plc is trying to sell its 172,000 barrel-a-day plant in Coryton, Essex, near London, its last remaining U.K. refinery. London-based BP sold facilities in Grangemouth, Scotland, and Lavera, France, to chemicals company Ineos Group Holdings Plc in 2005.

“We remain committed to maintaining an active dialogue with colleagues working at our French refineries and the unions that represent them,” said Shell spokeswoman Sarah Smallhorn by phone from Shell’s office in London. Shell is continuing “active discussions” with a number of parties about the possible sale, she added.

Chevron Corp., the second-largest U.S. oil company, is “entertaining offers” for the sale of its 31 percent stake in the 400,000-barrel-a-day Nerefco refinery in the Netherlands, Chevron Chief Executive Officer David O’Reilly said on July 28.

The Shell refineries under review have a combined capacity of about 300,000 barrels a day, the company said on Jan. 11.

Shell said it has been approached by a number of potential buyers for the refineries. The company is in “active discussions” with a number of interested parties, Smallhorn said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Fred Pals in Amsterdam at [email protected]

Last Updated: January 16, 2007 09:28 EST and its sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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