A flag of French CGT labour union flutters as workers on strike gather in front of the TotalEnergies oil refinery in Gonfreville-l’Orcher, France, October 5, 2022. — Reuters pic
Saturday, 08 Oct 2022 9:33 PM MYT
PARIS, Oct 8 — France will not ration petrol for drivers or restrict the use of service stations in response to supply problems caused by refinery strikes, Environment Minister Christophe Bechu said on Saturday.
A walkout by CGT trade union members at TotalEnergies — mainly over pay — has disrupted operations at two refineries and two storage facilities, and two Exxon Mobil refineries have faced similar problems since September 20.
“We haven’t reached this point yet,” Bechu told france info radio when asked if the government would impose any national measures beyond bans in some places on filling jerry cans.
“We are calling on people’s calm and sense of responsibility,” the minister said, adding that he believed the situation would ease over the next few days as the government makes further use of its strategic reserves.
Workers on strike burn a fire in front of the ExxonMobil oil refinery in Port-Jerome-sur-Seine, France, October 5, 2022. — Reuters pic
According to Energy Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher, who travelled to the northern Hauts-de-France region hardest hit by the outages on Friday, roughly one in five petrol stations are not receiving usual supplies.
But in some areas, also including the Ile-de-France region around Paris, the share is much higher.
An interactive map compiled by the website mon-essence.fr, where more than 100,000 users reported outages in recent days according to its operator, a large majority of the petrol stations in and around Paris were marked out of service.
“The waiting line will take you at least one-and-a-half hours or two”, Jean Galibert, a real estate credit agent, said as he entered the last stretch of the 700-metre tailback in front of a Paris service station on his scooter.
“This situation right behind me reflects the state of France. We’re struggling”, said Franck Chang, another customer.
The strikes have reduced France’s total refinery output by over 60 per cent, according to Reuters calculations.
“Nothing has moved on, the strikes continued this morning,” a CGT representative at TotalEnergies told Reuters as the strikes headed into their 11th day.
He said the union would make a new appeal on Saturday to TotalEnergies Chief Executive Patrick Pouyanne to open negotiations ahead of formal wage talks in November, and that the union had not given up on any of its demands.
A CGT representative at Exxon Mobil also said the strikes at two of the US company’s two French refineries were continuing on Saturday morning and would likely last throughout the weekend, with new talks with management planned on Monday. — Reuters