• Switzerland's news in English

Workers worried over Petroplus oil plants

AFP · 30 Dec 2011, 10:31

Published: 30 Dec 2011 10:31 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Workers and government officials raised concern on Thursday over the future of five oil refineries owned by Swiss firm Petroplus, currently seeking to restore $1 billion in frozen credit lines.

Some fear the company, Europe's largest independent oil refiner, may close one of its plants as it struggles to secure funds to maintain its operations.

The spotlight has fallen on Petit-Couronne in Normandy, France, and Switzerland's Cressier refinery in the Neuchatel canton, reportedly the least profitable in the last quarter.

The French goverment has assured French unions that it is pulling out all the stops to assist Petroplus during its ongoing talks with lenders.

Yves Scornet of the CGT said on Thursday that workers feared any partial restoring of credit would see funds channelled to the Coryton refinery in England and the Petroplus plant in Ingolstadt, Germany.

Scornet added however: "The government has assured us that there will be no solution that does not include the French refinery."

Neuchatel authorities said they were in daily contact with management at the Cressier refinery where 250 people are employed.

"The situation is serious, but not catastrophic," the region's economy minister Thierry Grosjean told the ATS news agency.

Grosjean said the most likely scenario was that Petroplus would close one of its refineries, but not necessarily Cressier.

The refinery may be spared due to its small size, treating about 68,000 barrels a day, and it is one of only two refineries in Switzerland, the official said.

Current stocks will last for about three weeks, he added, with all sides determined to find a solution.

The Cressier refinery, opened by Shell in 1966 and run by Petroplus since 2000, produces about a quarter of the total refined products sold in Switzerland.

Petroplus announced on Tuesday that its lenders had frozen $1 billion in uncommitted credit lines -- funds it said were "critical" for it to continue its operations.

The news sent shares on the Swiss market tumbling and on Thursday credit ratings agencies Standard and Poor's and Moody's slashed the firm's rating, indicating it was vulnerable to default.

Petroplus Holdings AG is headquartered in the city of Zug near Zurich and headed by Frenchman Jean-Paul Vettier.

Story continues below…

The company had discussed with lenders options to "reduce their risk", spokesman Fredrik Olsson said following the announcement, but a request for more time was not granted.

Petroplus has not issued any statements since and could not be contacted for comment.

The group, which employs 2,500 people, indicated at the beginning of December that it faced increasing liquidity problems.

Its five refineries, which include the Antwerp plant in Belgium, have a combined capacity of about 667,000 barrels a day.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Montreux throws hat in Olympic rings
Could Montreux host the 2026 Games? Photo: Ivo Scholz/Swiss Tourism

Montreux is to put itself forward as the host city for the 2026 winter Olympics as part of a potential bid by the cantons of Valais and Vaud.

Geneva car share scheme could help reduce city traffic
Catch a Car is aimed at short hops within a city. Photo: Catch a Car

Catch a Car, already in Basel, launches in Geneva next month.

Swiss women will ‘work for free’ for the rest of year
Female employees in Switzerland earn 19.3 percent less than their male colleagues. File photo: Randy Kashka

Switzerland's gender pay gap means from today, Friday October 21st, women in the country will effectively be working for free for the rest of 2016.

Swiss luxury watches stolen in Paris raid
Police outside the Girard-Perregaux watch store on Thursday. Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP

The 10 Girard-Perregaux watches are worth half a million euros in total.

Brother-in-law arrested over murder of Swiss teacher
The victim worked in a school in Stabio, near the town of Mendrisio. Photo: Oliver Graf

The primary school teacher was found dead in Ticino earlier this week.

Inside Switzerland’s largest nuclear bunker – 40 years on
Designed to house 20,000 people, the bunker was built in and over two motorway tunnels. Photo: Unterirdisch Ueberleben

The Local takes a tour of the Sonnenberg bunker in Lucerne, opened 40 years ago at the height of the Cold War.

Ten Swiss ski resorts named most expensive in Europe
File photo: Renato Bagattini/Swiss Tourism

Skiers in Switzerland pay the highest prices for their ski passes of anywhere in Europe, according to research.

Eco group fights Bern over wind farm plans
There are currently more than 30 wind farms in Switzerland. Photo: Alpiq

Wind turbines are “gigantic and destructive” machines, says Paysage Libre Suisse.

Vegan wins battle to be accepted by Swiss army
Antoni Da Campo will now carry out his military service. Photo: Antoni Da Campo

A Swiss man who was told he would not be accepted for military service because of his strict veganism has finally succeeded in making the army change its mind.

Geneva terror suspects to receive compensation
File photo: Emran Kassim

The Swiss public prosecutor has dropped the case against them.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
Photo: file
Some deodorants could cause breast cancer: Swiss study
Photo: Royal Savoy
In pictures: Inside the latest Swiss luxury hotel
Photo: AFP
Geneva airport bomb hoaxer faces 90,000-franc bill
Photo: Schaffhausen police
Mother leaves toddler son alone in car to go clubbing
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Swiss populist attacked by knife-wielding pensioner
Photo: File
Bern argues over passports for 3rd generation foreigners
Photo: Broad Bean Media
Muslim pupils must shake hands – ‘no ifs and buts’
jobs available