After weeks of ongoing strikes by French refinery workers, Europe’s biggest refinery suffered a malfunction Wednesday evening taking it offline. Shell Pernis which operates the refinery, posted a Tweet on Wednesday saying, “Due to a malfunction on one of our installations, we are forced to flare.”
The cause of the problem is under investigation and Shell Pernis is working to fix the malfunction and limit issues for residents who live near the refinery located near Rotterdamn.
Other European nations have been alerted to the malfunction, but it is unclear at this time what effect the malfunction will have on Europe’s growing fuel shortage and energy crisis.
In addition to the problems at Shell Pernis, French refinery workers have been on strike for several weeks demanding higher wages amid growing inflation. More than 60% of France’s refining capacity has been taken offline due to the ongoing strikes.
In an effort to keep refineries operational, the French government threatened to requisition essential workers to return to the Exxon French oil depot, but the move backfired Tuesday when the government threatened to requisition striking workers back to TotalEnergy’s refineries. The Total workers decided on Tuesday to begin striking on Wedensday in a turn of events that could be devastating to Europe as the growing threat of a massive energy crisis grows larger by the day.
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In an effort to end the strikes, French ministers encouraged TotalEnergies to raise workers’ salaries as the strike enters its third week. French Finance Minister, Bruno Le Maire, told a local radio station, “If one knows the profits which they made…companies which have the capacity have a duty to raise wages and Total is one of them.” On Thursday French Energy Minister, Agnes Pannier-Runacher advised Total to increase workers’ salaries and said that “everyone must return to the negotiating table.”
With French refinery workers on strike, a malfunctioning refinery, and the EU’s embargo on imports of Russian fuel by sea taking effect in less than four months, an already looming fuel and energy crisis is quickly turning into a dire situation in the present moment. The UK has already lifted its ban on fracking and Poland has removed its air quality controls to allow people to burn trash to stay warm as winter approaches. Amid all the uncertainty of Europe’s energy supply, one thing seems certain – Europe could be facing a very cold, very bleak winter.