Hellenic Petroleum trade unionists yesterday occupied the oil refiner’s office in central Athens and threaten to step up the scale of their opposition to the government’s sale of a 16.5 percent stake in the company to a smaller rival. Nikos Orfanos, the president of the PanHellenic Worker’s Union of Hellenic Petroleum, told Kathimerini English Edition that unionists were against the sale of the stake to Paneuropean Oil and Industrial Holding, the principal shareholder in oil refiner Petrola and part of the Latsis group. «The sale does not offer anything to Hellenic Petroleum,» he said. The government last week announced the sale of 16.65 percent of Hellenic Petroleum to Paneuropean for 326 million euros. The oil refiner would subsequently take over Petrola, with the Latsis group controlling 25.35 percent of the merged entity. The State would continue to be the principal stakeholder with 35 percent and seven seats on the 13-member board of directors. It would also control the management for the next five years. Orfanos said trade unionists were mulling industrial action to underscore their opposition to the sale. Opposition party New Democracy has also criticized the sale. Early this year, Latsis teamed up with Russian oil giant Lukoil to make an unsuccessful bid for a 23.5 percent stake in Hellenic Petroleum. The government, however, called off the talks, saying the offer was not in the public’s interest. Hellenic Petroleum in the meantime has sought to carve out a presence in the Balkans with a series of acquisitions. It currently operates a retail network of 140 service stations in Montenegro and Cyprus. Last month, it announced a partnership with Aberdeen-based production company Ramco to explore for oil off Montenegro.