Rabat - The SAMIR refinery affair is still bogged down in discussions. After months of hearings, meetings, official statements, and protests by the workers union, this November 27 marks the umpteenth meeting between the judge-commissioner charged with the liquidation of Samir, the union, and the stakeholders.
Rabat – The SAMIR refinery affair is still bogged down in discussions. After months of hearings, meetings, official statements, and protests by the workers union, this November 27 marks the umpteenth meeting between the judge-commissioner charged with the liquidation of Samir, the union, and the stakeholders.
The hope of a positive outcome is disintegrating. As time passes, the probability of the relaunch of the refinery approaches zero.
Since 2015, during the meetings held at the Commercial Court of Casablanca, both sides have effectively winded down their support of the assumption of a takeover of the company according to the provisions of Article 623 of the Commercial Code stipulating “to ensure long-term employment and payment of creditors.”
Candidates for the takeover, creditors of the SAMIR, actors of the sector, and judicial and executive powers are all holding their breath, anticipating day-by-day the sale of the company’s assets in batches, through an auction.
Workers Stand Up
If this judicial decision is taken, it would mean the disappearance of the petroleum refining industry in Morocco and the destruction of 850 jobs.
On November 25 in Mohammedia, the SAMIR workers expressed their concern about this situation. Once again, they beat the pavement to claim “the emergency restart of the refinery,” a slogan they’ve been repeating for over two years.
The march stopped in front of the stations owned by the distribution companies of the oil sector, including Shell, Total, Oil Libya, and Petrom. The protests were a baroud d’honneur and a cry of despair at the stagnated liquidation process.
According to the coordinator of the union for the SAMIR case, the state has a moral responsibility in this case and must react: “It is not the court that will end the crisis of the SAMIR, but a clear position and a political will.”
The workers’ cries for help have been met with radio silence, even though union representatives have sent several letters to various departments concerned by the issue: the Ministry of Economy and Finance, the Ministry of Equipment, the Ministry of Energy, as well as the head of government.
The Government Stands Down?
Meanwhile, the government blows hot and cold. In a response to an oral question to parliament, Aziz Rabbah, Minister of Energy and Mines, delivered a reading clearly suggesting that Morocco is abandoning its ambitions to create a refining industry.
In the disconnected text of his response, Rabbah claimed that “the economic fallout from the crisis of the SAMIR refinery has become obsolete and the deficit caused by the absence of the company from the markets for the production and distribution of petroleum products has been satiated.”
The minister added that “the intervention of many economic actors in the affair has made it possible to strengthen competitiveness, overcome monopoly situations, and reduce the risks of domination of the market by a single economic actor.”
Clearly, it would seem for Rabbah that the SAMIR is no longer indispensable. Except that since this release of this statements in mid-November, the minister changed his discourse.
In an interview with news daily Al Massae last week, Rabbah said that “Morocco has acquired a know-how in the refining industry, and to preserve these capabilities, investment in this sector will be useful for our country.”
The discrepancy between the two statements summarizes the attitude of the government in this case since the judgment of the SAMIR in August 2015 and its liquidation in March 2016.