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Total draws up plan to overhaul refining, petrochemical and marketing businesses

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Total SA’s overhaul of its refining, petrochemicals and marketing businesses is not in preparation for a sale, according to Chief Executive Officer Christophe de Margerie.

At a briefing to discuss the merger of the refining and petrochemicals divisions and the creation of a separate fuel marketing operation, the head of Europe’s largest refiner stated:

‘No, there is no planned IPO or sale. One can never say never, but our biggest preoccupation is to make this tool better performing.’

Against the backdrop of poor European refining margins, the aim of the plan is to ‘unlock value’ for the activities, even in European and US markets where demand for fuel products is decreasing. De Margerie also stated that there would be no jobs lost as a result of the reorganisation.

Europe’s third largest oil company has reduced refining through the closure of its plant near Dunkirk in France, capacity reduction at Normandy and the sale of its 49% stake in Spain’s Cia. Espanola de Petroleos SA. Total is also trying to sell its Lindsey plant in the U.K.

The outline of the overhaul will have taken shape by January and it may be complete a year after that, Margerie said. The move could be accompanied by salary increases in the petrochemicals division to bring them in line with refining, although costs of the reorganisation will be minimal.

Elsewhere in France, staff at LyondellBasell's 105 000 bpd Berre refinery went back to work on Monday 10 October, ending a 10 day strike after agreeing with the Dutch chemical group's management to restart the plant for three months.

The plant in south eastern France will operate until December 31 before being ‘mothballed’ (stopped, cleaned and left ready to restart) for two years, giving time for a potential acquirer to buy the refinery.

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