Strike At BP’s Largest European Refinery Could Deepen Diesel Crisis

Refinery workers at BP’s biggest refinery in Europe are on a partial strike over demands for higher wages and will not cooperate in efforts to restart the Rotterdam refinery, which is currently offline.

Employees at the 400,000-bpd refinery, a major supplier of diesel to northern Europe, threatened earlier this month to go on a strike if their pay rise demands are not met. The Rotterdam refinery accounts for almost 3% of northern Europe’s refining capacity, and delays to its restart could exacerbate the diesel crunch in Europe.   

In early November, members of the FNV trade union voted down an early offer from BP about a pay rise, a union representative told Argus.

The refinery was halted last week after a fault was found. The fault has been fixed, but workers will not cooperate in the restart of production, a representative of the CNV Vakmensen union told Bloomberg on Tuesday.

BP has indicated that it plans to restart the refinery early this week.  

“We will help resolve the problems until the facilities are ready to be restarted, and then we’ll stop, that’s our intention,” Jaap Bosma of the CNV union told Reuters on Monday.

The strike at one of Europe’s biggest refineries comes weeks after strikes at refineries in France left more than 60% of the country’s refining capacity offline while gas stations in and around Paris and in the northern part of the country began to run out of fuel.   

A delay in the BP Rotterdam refinery restart also comes as Europe is scrambling for diesel supply and stocking up on Russian diesel while it still can. Europe has hiked its diesel imports from Russia this month as the EU embargo on imports of Russian oil products starting on February 5 draws closer, oil flow analytics showed

As the EU embargo on imports of Russian diesel enters into force, “The competition for non-Russian diesel barrels will be fierce, with EU countries having to bid cargoes from the US, Middle East and India away from their traditional buyers,” the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its Oil Market Report for November.

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