ExxonMobil to close chemical plant in Gravenchon, France
Photo courtesy of Esso France

ExxonMobil to close chemical plant in Gravenchon, France

ExxonMobil Chemical France, part of the Esso SAF group, has decided to permanently close its steam cracker and associated downstream units at Gravenchon, a district within the town of Port-Jérôme-sur-Seine, in 2024. The closure, affecting polyethylene, polypropylene, and adhesives units, alongside logistics operations, accounts for 70% of the site’s chemical activities.

Local reports indicate the move will result in the loss of 677 jobs, significantly impacting the Port-Jérôme-sur-Seine community, which has a population of 10,000. The majority of these job losses are local, with an additional 30 positions at ExxonMobil’s Nanterre headquarters also being cut. The actual job reductions are scheduled to begin in 2025.

The decision comes in response to the plant’s inability to compete economically, with ExxonMobil citing the facility’s outdated technology and high operating costs in Europe as primary reasons. The company reported financial losses of EUR500 million (USD533 million) since 2018. Although the chemical operations will cease, the Esso Gravenchon refinery at the same site will remain operational.

This shutdown necessitates a reorganisation within the Esso SAF group, potentially leading to the elimination of 167 more jobs, mainly at the Esso Gravenchon refinery. The restructuring plan, subject to staff consultation, was outlined to the group’s Central Social and Economic Committee on April 11, 2024. ExxonMobil is exploring both individual and collective measures to support affected employees, with a promise of enhanced support measures to facilitate workforce reintegration.

This restructuring announcement coincides with ongoing labor challenges, highlighted by the workers’ strike that began at the Esso Gravenchon refinery in September 2022.