A strike by workers at France’s oil refineries is disrupting fuel supplies in Europe’s third-largest economy, another blow to the country as it battles a widening energy crisis over a Russian shutdown.
Workers have gone on strike at oil refineries that handle more than half of the country’s fuel production. Two have come to a complete halt, while a third is advancing towards minimal technical levels. Together they account for more than half of France’s capacity to produce diesel, gasoline and other fuels. There is also a strike on a fourth floor which was hampered by fire anyway.
The action stems from disagreement over wages and highlights the impact of Europe’s cost-of-living crisis. The CGT union that represents the workers is pressuring the oil companies to improve their wage offers, pointing to the profits the companies made from rising energy and oil prices.
The longer the mobilization lasts, the greater the potential damage it can do to France as it deals with the recent rise in energy costs. The nation’s nuclear reactors are set to undergo more work this winter than previously anticipated, and Russia has drastically reduced gas flows to Europe. Both developments have led to a rise in energy prices across the continent.
A prolonged strike could also have implications for retail fuel prices in France, which have fallen sharply from their peaks earlier this year, following falls in oil prices and fuel markets in other parts of the world.
Two Exxon Mobil Corp. refineries at Gravenchon and Fos, which together can meet about a fifth of France’s daily fuel demand, remain paralyzed for several days after a strike caused both to halt crude processing, Christophe said. Aubert, a CGT union official, via email Tuesday. Exxon confirmed as recently as Monday that both remained in detention.
In addition, TotalEnergies SE is cutting output to a technical minimum at its Normandy oil refinery, the country’s largest, according to Thierry Defresne, secretary of Total’s European workers committee and a CGT official.
“In anticipation of the strike, TotalEnergies has taken the necessary logistical measures to be able to supply its network of service stations and its customers normally,” the company said in a statement.