Bloomberg News

LyondellBasell to Restart Berre Refinery Before Mothballing

October 10, 2011

(Updates with LyondellBasell comment in third paragraph.)

Oct. 10 (Bloomberg) -- LyondellBasell Industries NV will restart units at the Berre refinery in southern France as workers end a strike after management agreed to mothball the plant from Dec. 31 rather than shutting it permanently.

The refining, olefins and polymers units at Berre will be restarted this week, LyondellBasell and labor unions said.

“We will begin the startup process” from today, David Harpole, a LyondellBasell spokesman, said by e-mail. Talks with unions on a permanent closing will begin in January, he said.

Workers struck after the company said Sept. 27 it planned to permanently shut the refinery, resulting in the loss of 370 jobs, after failing to find a buyer. It’s the third shuttering of a refinery to be announced in France in the past 18 months as falling profit and demand for fuel leads to capacity cuts.

“Mothballing the refinery means that there will still be the possibility it could be restarted if a buyer is found or refining margins increase,” Fabien Astier, representative of the CGT union, said after an accord with management two days ago. The union is “very satisfied,” Astier said.

Lyondell, based in Rotterdam, said last month it contacted 85 potential buyers for the 105,000-barrel-a-day refinery without receiving any bids. Petrochemical operations at Berre will continue, employing 900 people, Harpole said.

“We are not reopening the sale process,” he said. “We remain open to exploring the opportunity to sell the refinery if we receive a viable offer or expression of interest while the refinery is mothballed.” The company hasn’t “received any expression of interest,” he said.

--Editors: Tony Barrett, John Viljoen.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tara Patel in Paris at tpatel2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Will Kennedy at wkennedy3@bloomberg.net


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