Fuel refinery strike that has seen French petrol stations run dry ‘will continue’

A strike at refineries that has seen filling stations across France run dry will continue "for the duration", unions have declared.

Fuel refinery strike that has seen French petrol stations run dry 'will continue'
A sign which reads in French as "out of service" is seen on a nozzle at a TotalEnergies petrol station in Palavas les Flots, southern France, on October 4, 2022. (Photo by Pascal GUYOT / AFP)

Employees of Total Energies have been staging industrial action that includes blockades at refineries, in an ongoing dispute over pay, that has lead to shortages of petrol (gasoline) and diesel at Total filling stations across France.

On Friday around 15 percent of stations reported shortages while the worst affected areas – including the north-east France Hauts-de-France region – saw 30 percent of filling stations run dry.

The strike, called by the hardline CGT union, has been underway for 10 days and will continue until demands are met, CGT spokesman Thierry Defresne told Le Parisien newspaper.

The government has played down talk of a shortage, and on Friday it was announced that tanker drivers will be given a special dispensation to work on Sunday, in order to ease the supply issues.

Government spokesman Olivier Véran said during a press briefing that there is “no shortage of fuel.”

“There are temporary tensions,” said Véran. However, he advised that people “not create a panic effect” and “not all rush [to the stations]. We will not run out of fuel.”

The government spokesperson said that the situation is being closely monitored, and that strategic stocks may be called on if necessary as strike action continues. 

Local authorities have also asked the operators of some stations in the north of the country “to set up priority access” for “medical transport” such as doctors and nurses, according to La Voix du Nord.

“Does anyone know of a petrol station around here that’s been re-supplied?” read a post in a local Facebook post Friday morning. “Where can I get ethanol?” posted another motorist in the hope of filling the tank before the weekend.

“We’ve been dry since Sunday,” a manager at a station in central Paris said on Thursday.

Customers can check to see if stations near them are low in stock by consulting the map on TotalEnergies’ website, HERE.

Total bosses say that the refinery workers’ strike is not the only reason for fuel shortages – the company began offering customers an additional discount on fuel prices at the beginning of September, which could be added on top of the government’s existing fuel subsidy.

On July 22nd, the TotalEnergies announced it would offer a discount of €0.20 per litre at all its service stations in the country from September 1st until November 1st. In the second phase, which would run from November until December 31, the discount will be €0.10 per litre.

As a result of the campaign, the oil giant has seen a 30 percent increase in the number of customers frequenting its stations, which has left many without the necessary stocks to meet high demand.

The company assured customers that there is “no shortage of fuel” and that it “has built up stocks and is importing regularly,” according to France régions.

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France and Ireland to create new combined train and ferry tickets

The French and Irish leaders have announced the creation of a new combined ticket, that can be used on ferries and trains in both countries.

France and Ireland to create new combined train and ferry tickets

Irish Taoiseach Micheal Martin is currently in Paris visiting French president Emmanuel Macron, and the pair have jointly announced the creation of the new ticket, “in order to encourage green mobility between France and Ireland”.

The joint statement added that the ticket will be in effect by summer 2023, saying: “The objective will be to allow, in particular our young people, to travel between our two countries thanks to a green, simple and reasonably priced deal.”

Full details are yet to be confirmed, but the idea sounds similar to the ‘Franco-German ticket’ announced earlier this month, which will give special deals on train tickets between France and Germany to young people.

Full details of that scheme are set to be announced in January. 

Martin was in Paris for the signing of the Celtic Interconnector agreement between France and Ireland, an electricity agreement that links France and Ireland via a 500km undersea cable.

At present journeys between France and Ireland require separate tickets for French trains, Irish trains and the ferry, unless you are travelling with an Interrail pass which can in certain circumstances include ferry travel.

The Franco-Irish ticket would replicate that system, but for single journeys rather than the multi-journey pass of Interrail. 

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