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France to Increase Gasoil Imports, Raise Refinery Runs

France will be forced to increase gasoil imports and boost refinery production after last month’s workers’ strikes left the country with reduced fuel inventories, Credit Agricole CIB said.

Inventories of gasoil, a category of fuel that includes heating oil and diesel, fell below 53 million barrels at the end of last month, Christophe Barret, an oil analyst, wrote in an e-mailed report today. That’s 8.6 million barrels below the five-year average from 2003 to 2008.

Labor unrest across France last month forced ten refineries to halt operations, leaving some service stations without fuel and pushing up wholesale prices. Total SA, Europe’s biggest refiner, lost about 100 million euros ($139 million) because of the strikes by refinery and port workers.

“French oil markets should return to normal by mid-2011,” London-based Barret wrote in the report. “In the meantime rebalancing should provide some support to gasoil and crude oil markets.”

Stockpiles of gasoline will recover more quickly than gasoil, with inventory levels to be “comfortable” by the end of November. French gasoline exports will be 100,000 barrels a day lower than usual this month and last, Barret wrote.

French refineries will process an average of 1.7 million barrels of crude daily next year, 175,000 barrels a day more than in 2010, according to the Credit Agricole estimates.

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