Total has presented the Central Works Council with a plan to permanently shut down refining operations at its Dunkirk site, which will be repurposed. The shut down is in response to a structural decline in petroleum product demand, the company said.
In order to ensure the site’s future, Total will develop new refining operations support and petroleum logistics activities on the Dunkirk site. The company said that it will partner EDF in the implementation of the planned LNG terminal project for Dunkirk.
The collapse in petroleum product demand in France, Europe and the US has compelled Total to adjust its refining capacity, in particular in northern France. The Flandres refinery reported a loss of more than EUR130m in 2009. The production was halted in September 2009.
The company added that due to the poor outlook, resuming refining operations at the site is no longer considered viable. As per the plan, the Flandres refinery will be shut down permanently, resulting in a gradual dismantling of units that could continue to 2013.
The refinery will be repurposed as an industrial and technical facility engaged in three new activities that will leverage the industry-specific capabilities of employees.
A refining operations support center employing 180 people will provide other Total refineries with technical support for routine operations and assistance with preparing, defining and organizing major maintenance and revamping projects.
A refining training center employing 25 people will train group employees in the technical competencies required for refining. The company added that its other refining & marketing and petrochemicals businesses will also benefit from these services.
And thirdly, a logistics depot employing 15 people, will utilize the refinery’s tank farm. In addition, there will be administrative positions for a further 20 people involved in site management.
Total and its partners will study the possibility of maintaining the existing ethyl tertiary butyl ether (ETBE) production unit at the Dunkirk site. ETBE is used in biofuels. In addition, it will offer the site to its BioTfueL project partners for a second-generation biofuel pilot unit.
Total has said that it will continue to actively work with the public authorities and other businesses in the Dunkirk region. The company has pledged to share all its tools and resources with Dunkirk stakeholders to help maintain jobs in the area.