January 6, 2020 / 7:37 PM / 11 days ago

Four-day refinery strike in France should not leave motorists stranded - Total

PARIS (Reuters) - French oil major Total (TOTF.PA) said on Monday that strikes against the government’s pension reform were having no impact on its fuel supply and distribution ahead of a four-day nationwide strike in French oil refineries.

A view shows an empty platform at Gare de Lyon train station as a strike by all unions of the Paris transport network (RATP) and French SNCF workers entered its 33rd consecutive day in Paris, France, January 6, 2020. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

A day before unions are starting a 96-hour strike and protest actions at refineries in France, oil companies and the government are saying that motorists need not fear fuel shortages, but union leaders say they are determined to squeeze supplies until the government drops its pension reform plans.

“Our gas stations are well stocked on Monday. The protest movement that has been announced will have no impact on the supply of our network from Jan. 7 to 10 and beyond,” Total said in a statement.

Total said that only 26 - or just 0.7% - of its 3,500 gas stations had supply problems on Monday morning and that there was no risk of shortages in its retail network.

Hard-line CGT union official Thierry Defresne told Reuters that seven out of eight French refineries will be on strike for 96 hours from Tuesday to Friday.

He said those refineries will close completely and will not distribute a single product, including no kerosene fuel for airplanes.

“There will be disturbances to fuel supply. Our goal is not to make motorists’ lives miserable. We want to show that workers are united against this reform,” Defresne said.

About 50% of the fuel sold in France is not produced in local refineries but imported, which reduces the impact of French refinery strikes, an industry source said.

Total said its four oil refineries in Donges, Feyzin, Normandie and Grandpuits as well as its bio-refinery at La Mède were in operation.

It said that in Donges, Feyzin and Normandie products were shipped normally by trucks and pipeline, but that Grandpuits and La Mede could only be supplied by pipeline.

Total also said that with the exception of two fuel storage facilities attached to Grandpuits and La Mède, no depots were blocked. Nationwide, France has some 200 depots from where fuel is distributed to gas stations.

Public transport sector workers at national railway SNCF and Paris metro operator RATP have been on strike for more than a month, and on Thursday unions are organising a fourth day of nationwide protest marches against President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reform plans.

Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by David Goodman and Lisa Shumaker

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