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Workers plan limited strike at oil-storage hub in Netherlands

[LONDON] Workers at Royal Vopak, the world's biggest independent oil-storage company based in the Netherlands, will start a limited strike from 9pm local time on Tuesday, according to a union spokesman.

As many as 30 workers will strike for four hours at the Europoort oil terminal in Rotterdam, Albert van Damme, a spokesman for CNV union, said by phone Tuesday. Further strike action is possible, Mr van Damme said, without specifying the timing or location of such action.

Vopak spokesman Hans de Willigen couldn't immediately be reached for comment by e-mail and phone. Europoort is the company's largest storage facility in the Netherlands with capacity for about 24.6 million barrels of crude oil and refined products, according to Vopak's website.

Workers and Vopak management couldn't reach an agreement over pay at a meeting Tuesday, van Damme said. The terminal employs around 250 workers spread over five shifts, van Damme 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 in the Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Antwerp oil- trading area total about 5.6 million metric tons, close to a record, according to data from PJK International, a company that monitors storage. The strike action would be the second of its kind in the past thirteen years, Ruud Wennekes, a representative of the FNV union said on April 10.