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PETROPLUS

Libyan lifeline for bankrupt French oil plant

Bankruptcy administrators for the Petroplus oil refinery in Normandy have accepted bids from two firms to rescue the plant and have passed them on to a court, union sources said this week.

Libyan lifeline for bankrupt French oil plant
Workers outside the Petroplus oil plant during a day of action last month. Photo: Charly Triballeau/AFP

The bids from Panama-registered NetOil and Libya's Murzuq Oil are expected to be considered in the coming days, ahead of an April 16th deadline.

Unions representing the plant's 470 workers hailed the decision.

"This is very good news," said Jean-Luc Broute of the CGT union following a meeting of the plant's works council.

Two other bids, from Hong Kong-based Oceanmed Seasky System Limited and GTSA of Luxembourg, were rejected.

Opened in 1929, the refinery has struggled in recent years, with parent company Petroplus filing for bankruptcy in January 2012 and the plant placed under insolvency administration in October.

The fate of the plant has become a symbol of France's struggle to keep industrial sites running in the face of a stagnant economy and stiff global competition.

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INDUSTRY & TRADE

After promising to create 1,000 jobs in France… GE set to cut 1,044

US industrial conglomerate General Electric said on Tuesday that it would cut more than 1,000 jobs, mainly at its gas turbine operations in eastern France, part of a wave of European layoffs as it tries to stem losses in its power generation business.

After promising to create 1,000 jobs in France... GE set to cut 1,044
Photo: AFP
The 1,044 job cuts, long feared by unions, could become a political challenge for President Emmanuel Macron, who assured local officials this month that the government was following the matter with “the utmost vigilance”.
   
The cuts will be made mainly in Belfort, eastern France, the European headquarters for GE Energy, and in the Paris region, the company said in a statement.
   
“More than half the number of employees in the gas activities… are going to lose their jobs,” the mayor of Belfort, Damien Meslot, and other local officials said in a statement.
   
They warned of “a new hardship” for the region, which has been hit hard by the decline of mining and heavy industry over the past decades.
 
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US giant GE to pay France €50 million after creating just 25 jobs out of 1,000Photo: AFP

Overall, GE employs nearly 4,000 people in Belfort, including 1,900 in its gas turbine operations.   

The company has struggled for years with slumping demand for its gas turbines because of low oil and gas prices, and the power operations were a key factor in its massive annual loss of $22.8 billion last year.
   
In 2015 GE announced 6,500 job cuts across Europe, and two years later it revealed a further 12,000 cuts.
 
That prompted France to fine the company €50 million earlier this year, since GE had promised to create at least 1,000 new jobs when it announced the purchase of the power businesses from France's Alstom in 2014.
 
Shortly after closing that deal, GE unveiled a series of job cuts across Europe as slumping oil and gas prices crimped demand for its heavy-duty turbines and other equipment.
 
The company had already warned last year that it wouldn't meet the target, though the new CEO Larry Culp confirmed in October that GE would “fulfil its commitments.”
 
It had promised to pay €50,000 for every job not created over the three-year period.
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