In Finland, there is a widespread industrial strike threat between 27 January and 9 February 2020 which would widely affect Neste as well. There are altogether 1,400 employees in Neste’s operations involved in the possible strike in Finland.
Neste has an important role in ensuring the fuel distribution in Finnish society in the road, sea and air transport. The disruption of fuel distribution caused by a possible prolonged exceptional situation would greatly jeopardize the security of the transportation, heating, rescue and law enforcement, as well as food supply. In addition, it would significantly harm Finland’s export operations in many sectors.
“We are very concerned about the situation. We hope that the parties will make every effort to find a solution to prevent a major impact on society and to guarantee the safety of transportation and industrial operations. The threat of a two-week strike in oil refining is very critical and its impact is far more than two weeks in production and distribution,” says Hannele Jakosuo-Jansson, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, HSSEQ and Procurement at Neste.
Processes in the chemical industry are complex and susceptible to unplanned changes. An operationally demanding refinery, such as Porvoo, is scheduled to have a maintenance shutdown every five years, and project preparation will take several years. There are several industrial operators in Kilpilahti whose processes are interconnected and designed to function continuously.
Winter is an exceptional and difficult time to shut down the refinery because processes and equipment are exposed to freezing. This results in delays in the start-up process, which makes it difficult to bring production back to normal and to deliver products to customers. At its worst, freezing can cause serious equipment failure and, consequently, risk of leakage and explosion. As a result, planned refinery shutdowns are never scheduled for the winter season.
“A malfunction like strike in this type of process always entails an increased risk of equipment failure, personal safety as well as environmental harm. Winter strengthens the implications of the malfunction.
Considering the above facts, stopping the refinery due to the strike in the middle of winter is a very risky operation, and its implications would be multiple and broad,” says Marko Pekkola, Executive Vice President, Oil Products at Neste.