LNG terminals and French refineries extend strike to second week

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A strike against the French government’s planned pension reform dragged on Wednesday for a second straight week at French refineries and warehouses, while liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals were blocked.

A broad alliance of unions has called for an eighth day of street protests across France since mid-January to reject President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to push back the retirement age by two years, to 64.

Several LNG vessels bound for France have changed course to terminals in Britain, the Netherlands and Spain since the strike began. Closing French terminals for another week would significantly hamper France’s ability to export gas to neighboring countries.

It is foreseeable that three LNG terminals operated by Elengy, of Engie (EPA:ENGIE), remain blocked until March 21, a company spokesman said.

The Fluxys terminal in Dunkirk has also been affected by the strike, which is expected to last until Friday morning.

Among refiners, 42% of operating staff were on strike at TotalEnergies facilities for the eighth day this morning, a company spokesman said. Although deliveries of refined products were partially blocked, refining operations continued.

“We are making the necessary shipments to keep our facility running,” the spokesman added.

The Fos refinery in southern France operated by ExxonMobil subsidiary Esso (NYSE:XOM), also went on strike again on Wednesday, a union representative told Reuters.

The French electricity supply from nuclear, thermal and hydroelectric power plants was also reduced by the strike, according to data from the operator EDF (EPA:EDF).

The country was importing about 3.3 gigawatts (GW) of electricity from its neighbors at 0845 GMT, according to data from network operator RTE.

Reactor maintenance has also been blocked in recent days and outages have affected the Penly 1 reactor, where stress corrosion issues were recently detected.

The pension reform bill went to a joint parliamentary committee in which lawmakers in the lower and upper houses will seek a consensus text on Wednesday before its final vote, both in the Senate and the National Assembly, on Thursday.

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