Thursday's strike will not disrupt refineries if shortlived -Total CEO

TotalEnergies fuel depot in Mardyck
FILE PHOTO-The logo of French oil and gas company TotalEnergies is seen on an oil tank at TotalEnergies fuel depot in Mardyck near Dunkirk as France's trade unions announced a nationwide day of strike and protests in key sectors like energy, public transport, air travel and schools against the pension reform, France, January 16, 2023. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

PARIS, Jan 18 (Reuters) - One day of strikes and protests against a planned pension reform in France will not disrupt refinery operations, TotalEnergies' chief executive said on Wednesday evening, but this could change if the strikes were to last.

His comments, made in an interview with BFM TV, came hours ahead of a major strike action day expected on Thursday against plans by President Emmanuel Macron's government to reform the pension system and raise the retirement age.

"We don't stop the refineries for one day", Pouyanne said, "we put them at a minimum which keeps them functioning", adding "strikers can decide to block shipments which can prevent the trucks from rolling."

Operations at refineries could only be disrupted if the strike lasts several days, he said.

A union representative earlier said no oil will be shipped from the TotalEnergies' refinery in Dunkirk, northern France, on Thursday.

"Don't panic", Pouyanne said, adding that petrol stations were prepared and fully supplied and people should not hoard fuel in anticipation of any shortages which could lead to difficulties.

ExxonMobil's <XOM.N> French branch Esso, which operates a refinery at Fos-sur-Mer in the south and Gravenchon-Port Jerome in the north, said that sites are running normal operations and there is no impact on its product supply at this stage.

"We have plans in place to maximize our fuels supply to mitigate any potential impacts on our customers," a spokesperson from Esso said.

Reporting by Forrest Crellin, editing by Tassilo Hummel and Elaine Hardcastle

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