France’s Total Said to Be Eyeing Closure of Carling cracker

03.09.2013 -

French petrochemicals group Total is said to be close to announcing a shutdown of its loss-making steam cracker at Carling, in northeastern France. The cracker's viability is no longer assured, due to overcapacity in the market generally and the lack of back-integration into the refinery at the site.

The group has called a meeting with employee representatives for Sept. 4 to discuss the situation at the site and Total's forward strategy in general. At least 200 - and up to as many as 350 - of the more than 500 jobs at Carling are rumored to be on the line.

Reports say Total, which last year announced a major restructuring program, would not be able to close the cracker for as much as three years because of contractual obligations to employees and downstream customer such as Ineos and its own subsidiary Arkema for the ethylene, propylene and benzene output. However, the group has three other crackers in France, including units at Gonfréville, Feyzin and Lavera, that could take up some of the slack.

In 2012, Ineos announced plans to shut its high density polyethylene and polystyrene plants, which are not back-integrated and fed by the Carling cracker, but apparently has reconsidered.