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Paris gas stations run dry amid strikes at TotalEnergies refineries

Strikes at four refineries leave around 10 percent of service stations in the Paris region struggling with fuel supplies.

Around 10 percent of service stations in the Paris region are having trouble getting enough fuel supply, French government spokesman Olivier Veran said on Friday, as strikes at four TotalEnergies refineries continue for a 10th day.

The strike and unplanned maintenance have taken more than 60 percent of France’s refining capacity offline, or 740,000 barrels per day (bpd), forcing the country to import more as global supply uncertainty has increased the cost.

A strike by members of the General Confederation of Labor (CGT) union at TotalEnergies, mainly over wages, has disrupted operations at two refineries and two storage facilities, and two ExxonMobil refineries have faced similar problems since 20 September.

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Nothing has changed at the four TotalEnergies sites since Wednesday, CGT spokesman Thierry Defresne told the Reuters news agency.

Veran reiterated that France had sufficient gasoline supplies overall.

“There are temporary issues regarding distribution,” Veran told BFM TV and RMC Radio.

He said that 90 per cent of service stations in the Paris area had no problems, although 15 per cent of service stations in France in general were experiencing these “temporary difficulties”.

Wider industrial action

The strike is part of a broader industrial action in France, over demands for wages, pensions and purchasing power as inflation soars across Europe, which has also led to strikes at nuclear reactors that restrict energy supplies.

The French government said earlier this week that France had tapped into its strategic fuel reserves to refuel filling stations that ran out of fuel, amid strikes by workers at refineries and depots that have cut output and blocked deliveries. .

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Oil industry body UFIP said the shortage at fuel pumps was due to logistics and not insufficient supplies, and said the use of storage had no effect on the national level of reserves.

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“It is the flexibility that is given to some regions to take advantage of and balance with other regions that have a surplus,” said the UFIP spokesman about the withdrawal of shares.

In the hardest-hit region of Hauts-de-France, near the Belgian border, authorities have banned the sale of gasoline and diesel in drums and other portable containers.

The prefect of the northern department of the city of Lille said he had asked some gas stations on Wednesday night to ensure that emergency health workers were given priority.

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