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Nearly one-in-five French petrol stations suffering fuel shortages

Petrol and diesel shortages are worst in south and north-west France. Kerosene supplies to Paris airports are also running low

Several departments in southern France have introduced limits at petrol stations to protect supplies Pic: Aygul Bulte / Shutterstock

Nearly one-in-five petrol stations in France are suffering fuel shortages, according to FranceInfo, as refineries continue to be blocked.

The proportion of forecourts out of petrol, diesel or both hit 18% on Wednesday (March 22), up from 6% on Sunday.
The situation is particularly bad in the north-west and south of France.
Several departments have introduced limits on how much petrol can be bought per customer, to protect supplies.

On Thursday, the French government said the supply of kerosene to airports in the Paris region had become a “critical” problem. It will requisition striking workers at a refinery in Normandy in a bid to solve the issue.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGAC) asked all flights entering the French capital to carry as much fuel as possible - within operational reason - to minimise the need to refuel at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle and Paris-Orly.

‘Shortages only going to worsen’

Strikes at France’s refineries are causing the shortages. They are part of the opposition to the government’s controversial pension reforms, which raise the minimum retirement age from 62 to 64.

Refinery workers have been on a renewable strike since March 7, blocking shipments of fuel from most of France’s major refineries. Fuel production was even shut down at Gonfreville - the largest refinery in the country - on Monday.

Read more: Refinery blockades: Tips on how to find petrol and diesel in France

On Monday, union officials claimed shortages would worsen in the coming days, and so far, their warnings have been accurate.

Refinery workers are striking until the end of the week (March 24), although strike action may continue after this date if unions vote for further action. 

Requisitions and restrictions

This week, the government requisitioned striking refinery workers in Fos-sur-Mer near Marseille, forcing some of them to return to work, although the unions say they are going to challenge the legality of this in court.

A new requisition order for another 48 hours was announced on Wednesday evening at the refinery.

Several departments in southern France have introduced restrictions at petrol stations, until Friday (March 24).
Aimed at protecting supplies, they include limits on how much petrol each customer can buy and a ban on filling jerrycans

In the Marseille area, eleven petrol stations have been requisitioned to exclusively supply fuel to ‘priority’ vehicles until at least Friday.

Fuel supplier TotalEnergies has attempted to avoid any panic, claiming that only 4% of workers in their refineries are on strike, and that very few fuel depots are blocked, with demonstrations mostly taking place at refineries. 

They also say that stocks of fuel remain high for the moment. 

How can I monitor fuel supplies in my area of France?

The government has released an interactive map to check fuel shortage at your local service stations, which you can view here.

The map has filters for different types of petrol and diesel available at service stations, showing the price of the fuel as well as showing which stations are experiencing an outage.

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