Shortages Spread at Total’s French Gas Stations on Blockades

Updated on
  • About 678 gas stations face shortages or lack any fuel
  • All of company’s five French refineries affected; some shut

Total SA said fuel shortages spread to almost a third of its French gas stations after motorists rushed to fill their tanks amid strikes and blockades over labor-law changes.

Some 678 gas stations faced shortages or lacked any fuel late Monday, up from 612 in the morning and 336 a day earlier, Total said in a statement. Two out of nine of the company’s fuel depots remained blockaded and production at all of its five French refineries was affected by the strike, the company said.

More than 600 trucks have been loading up fuel to supply pumps, an increase from about 350 normally, said Total. Those deliveries will allow more than 1 million drivers to fill up their tanks, it said.

Workers are protesting against President Francois Hollande’s plans to change labor laws to reduce overtime pay and make it easier to fire staff in some cases. While the government has watered down its proposals since first floating them in February, unions are calling for them to be scrapped altogether. Police will continue to remove barricades around refineries and the blockades won’t change the government’s stance, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Sunday on BFM TV.

“When a strike action isn’t legitimate,” police intervention “is among the tools the authorities have the right to use,” Finance Minister Michel Sapin said on I-tele Monday,

Refineries Affected

Total said its Feyzin refinery has been completely shutdown and its Grandpuits refinery near Paris will be completely shutdown. At its Normandie and Donges plants, some units were halted, while La Mede refinery is operating at a reduced pace because products can’t be shipped. Total, Europe’s largest refiner, operates five of France’s eight plants.

The CGT and Force Ouvriere unions have asked Exxon workers at Gravenchon, near Le Havre, to join the strike from tomorrow, according to AFP. Exxon Mobil Corp. said earlier that its refineries in Gravenchon and Fos-sur-Mer were operating normally. A blockade has been set up near the Fos plant, close to Marseille, he added.

A spokesman for Ineos, which runs a refinery in Lavera near Marseille, declined to comment on the group’s operations.

About 90 percent of the country’s 11,356 gas stations were properly supplied, industry group Union Francaise des Industries Petrolieres said in a May 21 statement. UFIP wasn’t able to provide an update on Monday.