Walkouts at four of TotalEnergies’ refineries have left most of the company’s network of 3,500 gas stations without gas as motorists across France scramble to fill up their cars.
The French government on Friday revealed that 15 percent of the country’s petrol stations were affected by a lack of either one or all fuels. It was keen to stress that the issue did not stem from an actual shortage but rather the strong demand at TotalEnergies’ stations due to a discount per liter of 20 cents; in addition, it mentioned that an ongoing strike had affected supply chains.
Strategic oil reserves will likely be used over the weekend, France’s Energy Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher confirmed, as reported by Reuters.
She called on French citizens “to be confident,” insisting that “over 80 percent of petrol stations are functioning as normal.” However, she admitted there were “significant supply tensions” in some regions.
The government has responded by giving exclusive access to some stations to key workers like healthcare professionals, according to the France24 news outlet.
Various reports have suggested that motorists residing near Belgium have been crossing the border to fill up their tanks.
Reuters reported on Friday that most of the urban petrol stations around Paris “appeared to be affected by shortages of at least one type of fuel, with most diesel pumps running dry,” and long queues at pumps had been forming as early as Wednesday.
Industrial action over pay is expected to continue for some time, with TotalEnergies announcing recently that wage negotiations will begin in November. The CGT trade union called on its members to strike at two refineries and two storage facilities owned by the energy company.