There is no “general shortage” and the “situation will sort itself out” soon, the head of the petroleum industry union in France has said, despite some petrol stations having been hit by issues.
Olivier Gantois, president of the Union Françaises des Industries Pétrolières (UFIP), made the statement today (October 6), in response to several regions in the country reporting a lack of fuel.
As many as 10% of stations were affected this week, especially in the north and east, and 12% nationwide have had “difficulties in getting at least one type of fuel” at the pumps.
Stations in Pas-de-Calais and in Nord were forced to draw on their reserve stocks, with around 30% of stations affected in the Hauts-de-France region.
The president of Hauts-de-France, Xavier Bertrand, called on the government to “remedy the shortage” via a letter to Transport Minister Clément Beaune, and said that it had been causing particular problems for school buses.
Result of demand and strikes
The shortage has partly been blamed on sudden rising demand, as a result of both the government’s 30-cent-per-litre reduction and TotalEnergies’ 20-cent reduction this month.
Another factor is the strike by workers at French refineries, which has disrupted deliveries. This week’s strike action began on Tuesday (October 4), and is continuing today, said CGT union coordinator, Eric Sellini. This movement is a continuation of strikes that occurred last week.
Mr Sellini said that 80% of Total refineries are stopped (only that in Donges, Loire-Atlantique, is still online).
Mr Gantois said: “The situation will sort itself out, because from the moment when certain refineries went on strike, imports of extra fuel were put in place. However, it takes time for the product to arrive. It will arrive, and when it does, it will diffuse the situation.”
‘Wait a few hours’
New stocks are expected to arrive “from today in certain regions”, Mr Gantois said. Government spokesperson Olivier Véran also stressed that there was “no shortage”.
He called on drivers to avoid the “panic effect”, as any shortages were “temporary”. He admitted that there had been “tensions”, but said: “Everything has been put on the table to ensure that the shortages are limited.
“I assure you that [rushing to the pumps] is not necessary.”
Mr Gantois added that drivers who had been affected by shortages in the affected regions would “only need to wait a few hours, or a few days at most, if they don’t need to fill up immediately, because there is fuel [coming]”.
Authorities in affected regions have asked some petrol stations to “put in place priority access” for some vehicles, including those relating to healthcare and emergency transport, as well as vehicles driven by nurses and doctors.
TotalEnergies said that it was “mobilising to resupply the network thanks to extra logistics” work. It said: “There is no shortage of fuel because TotalEnergies has acquired stocks and is now proceeding to regular imports.”