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Oil storage workers poised to strike in fuel-trade hub

Saturday, April 11, 2015 - 07:25
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Royal Vopak NV, the world's biggest independent oil-storage company, said its workers in Europe's fuel-trading centre are less than three days away from staging a strike.

[LONDON] Royal Vopak NV, the world's biggest independent oil-storage company, said its workers in Europe's fuel-trading centre are less than three days away from staging a strike.

"What I confirm is that an ultimatum has been set that is expiring on midnight Sunday to Monday," Hans de Willigen, a spokesman for Vopak, said by phone on Friday. "What could potentially follow is not yet known, at least not to us."

The action would be the second of its kind in the past thirteen years, Ruud Wennekes, a representative of the FNV union, said by phone. If the ultimatum expires on April 12, the resulting strike will involve staff at seven terminals working shifts, including Vopak terminals in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Vlissingen, he said.

Demand to store crude and fuels jumped this year as a collapse in oil prices created what's known as contango, where future costs exceed more-immediate ones. Inventories held by independent firms is about 5.6 million metric tons, close to a record, according to data from PJK International BV, a company that monitors storage.

Oil product prices, rather than crude oil costs, are more likely to be affected if the action goes ahead, Harry Tchilinguirian, head of commodity markets strategy at BNP Paribas SA, said by e-mail from London.

The Netherlands is Europe's biggest center for trading products including gasoline, diesel and jet fuel and a location for pricing the commodities.

The strike was confirmed by the CNV union, which said 550 of its workers would be involved. The action relates to a dispute about issues including bonuses and holidays, said Albert van Damme, a CNV spokesman.

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