Total’s French refining roadmap: Upgrade Donges and transform La Mède

Total presented its French refining roadmap to employee representatives. The plan is designed to give each Total’s refining site in France the means to resist in a volatile environment and perform profitably. Under the plan, Total will invest to upgrade the Donges refinery in western France and transform the La Mède refinery in southern France, to ensure they thrive going forward.

Three of Total’s five refineries in France — Gonfreville in Normandy, Grandpuits in the Paris region and Feyzin near Lyon — demonstrated their ability to withstand the deteriorating economic environment in 2013 and 2014 and generate ongoing income streams. The other two, Donges and La Mède, are struggling and are structurally loss-making. To address the situation, Total has presented a comprehensive plan to improve both refineries’ performances and secure their long-term future:

  • An investment of €200 million to transform the La Mède refinery and in particular create France’s first biorefinery, which will be one of the biggest in Europe, to meet growing demand for biofuels. Crude oil processing will be halted at end-2016.
  • An investment of €400 million to upgrade the Donges refineryto capture profitable new markets with low-sulfur fuels that meet the evolutions of European Union specifications. 

European demand for petroleum products has declined 15% since 2008, shrinking outlets for the continent’s refining industry. This underlying trend stems from pursuit of energy efficiency and improved vehicle fuel economy as part of the European Union’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint.

The European market is steadily contracting, a situation aggravated by the shale oil and gas revolution in the United States, which gives the U.S. refining industry an advantage, and competition from refineries in Asia and the Middle East.