Total to shut Eastern France naphtha cracker, invest in polymers


PARIS -- French integrated oil and gas group Total said Wednesday that it plans to shut down a loss-making steam-cracker in Carling, Eastern France, cutting 210 jobs through attrition.

The steam-cracker, which refines crude oil into chemical components to make plastics, is to be shut in the second half of 2015, as part of a reshuffling of the industrial site, the company said in a statement.

Total also said that it intends to invest 160 million euros ($211 million) in the Carling site in a bid to "adapt the petrochemical platform" and "restore its competitiveness."

The investments at the site will include the creation of a thermoplastics unit, making innovative plastics for the car industry, the reinforcement of its polystyrene production and an upgrade of its polyethylene production unit.

Following the closure of the steam-cracker from 2016, the site will employ 344 people, including 110 positions set to be created by the new production units.

Total CEO Christophe de Margerie said last week that the group, which is seeking to boost profitability for its downstream activities such as refining and chemical making, was planning some restructuring in France.

Total has already shut down one of the two steam-crackers at Carling, in 2009.

The company has been grappling over the past five years with falling refining margins and weakening demand for oil-refined products against the backdrop of the economic crisis in Europe and tough competition from low-cost basic chemical-makers from emerging countries.

Mr. de Margerie said earlier this summer that it could well trim further refining capacity in France, should margins keep declining and demand continue to fall.

Dow Jones Newswires

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