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French fuel prices rise over €2 a litre in places amid shortages

This comes as a result of increases in the cost of barrels of crude oil, along with distribution issues caused by continuing refinery strikes

Fuel prices have risen in France because of increases in the cost of crude oil and distribution problems caused by refinery strikes Pic: RVillalon / Shutterstock

The price of fuel has risen above €2 per litre in some places, as strikes at TotalEnergies and Esso-ExxonMobil refineries have led to supply shortages in around one third of the country’s petrol stations. 

Read more: French fuel shortages: Strikes go on despite heavy government pressure 

This price increase can also be explained in part by the fact that a barrel of Brent oil is currently at $94.83, the highest it has been since August.

Strikes at TotalEnergies and Esso-ExxonMobil refineries have then meant that petrol stations are struggling to find petrol and diesel stocks, which is also pushing prices up.

Official government spokesperson Olivier Véran has also criticised “some [stations that are] profiteering from the strike” and increasing their rates. 

He said during an interview with RTL that the government has “systematic controls” in place through the Direction générale de la répression des fraudes (DGCCRF), “from which we are asking for the strictest approach possible”. 

Fuel prices are not decided by state authorities, and are determined by distributors based on the price of crude oil, the cost of distribution and taxes. However, Ecological Transition Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher has said that she will ask the DGCCRF to take steps to control the rise. 

Average SP98 prices are at €1.78 per litre – up €0.12 over a week – SP95 is at €1.72 and diesel is at €1.94 – having increased by nearly €0.21 over a week – according to fuel price tracker Carbu.com

However, a search on official government website prix-carburants.gouv.fr shows that rates top €2 in many petrol stations across the country, from Pas-de-Calais to Charente-Maritime to Lozère.

For example, a BP petrol station at Cannes Boulevard Vallombrosa is charging €2.309 per litre for diesel and €2.249 for SP98. 

Prices appear to be slightly higher in the south of France, where more petrol stations have tipped over the €2 mark, compared to averages seeming to sit around €1.90 in northern departments.

Fuel discount to be extended? 

Even if the price of crude oil and of distribution come down over the next couple of weeks, people in France will notice a rise in costs in November, when current petrol station discounts are reduced. 

At the moment, the government has in place a 30-cent-per-litre discount on nearly all types of fuel, and TotalEnergies has added a 20-cent-per-litre discount in its petrol stations. 

However, in November, both discounts will be cut to 10 cents per litre, giving a maximum reduction of 20 cents per litre as opposed to 50. 

Transport Minister Clément Beaune has said that the government has asked TotalEnergies to extend its discount to make up for the days lost as a result of supply shortages.

“These days in which access to fuel is blocked will result in a prolongation of the discount. That is what we are asking of Total,” he told Apolline Matin. 

Five arrested for reselling fuel at elevated price 

Five men have been arrested in Ile-de-France for reselling petrol near service stations for prices of up to €3.50 per litre. 

There have been several reports in recent months of people using stolen company fuel cards to buy petrol or diesel and then resell it for less than the petrol station charges. 

However, as many petrol stations struggle with supply shortages and drivers have difficulty finding somewhere to buy their fuel, scammers have now started to take advantage of the situation, filling up jerry cans in places with stock and then reselling at much higher prices. 

On Monday night (October 10), five men of around 20 years of age were arrested for selling fuel at the side of the road near different petrol stations in the Paris region. 

However, the government announced yesterday that it was to require all departmental prefectures to temporarily ban the use of jerry cans to prevent people stockpiling on fuel, and so it should now be impossible to carry out this illegal practice.

Read more: French fuel shortages: jerry cans to be banned to prevent stockpiling

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