not available at many gas stations, but why?

published on Thursday, October 06, 2022 at 07:39

Across France, motorists are struggling to find gas at service stations, TF1 Info reported on Wednesday, October 5. But why this shortage of fuel?

Bad news for motorists.

Since last week, average fuel prices have started to rise again. Diesel fuel rose by 3.6 cents, or 1.70 euros per liter, 95-E10 – by 3.1 cents, or 1.52 euros per liter. This is the first increase in gas station prices since the end of August. The French also faced another difficulty: a shortage of fuel at the STA, TF1 Info reported on Wednesday, October 5.

In Nîmes, in Garde, one of the two stations ran out of fuel. “Looking for at least 20 minutes and can’t find the station”, lamented the driver, from Franceinfo, Tuesday, October 4. This fuel shortage is particularly linked to strikes at oil refineries. Faced with this tense situation, the government, which is offering a discount of 30 cents per liter until the end of October, wanted to calm down. “There is no shortage”, hardened Olivier Veron at the end of the Council of Ministers on Wednesday, October 5. However, the press secretary of the government admits it “12% of stations face difficulties with at least one type of fuel”.

Factors that explain this tension

So, what explains this fuel shortage, or at least this supply tension at the STA? On the one hand, a strike at the TotalEnergies refinery is halting production. Refinery workers demand a 10% salary increase. At the moment, six of the eight French oil refineries are closed, including the largest in France, Normandy. According to Les Echos, only the refineries in Dongy (Loire-Atlantique) and Grandpuis (Seine-et-Marne) did not vote to resume the strike and resumed normal operations.

On the other hand, the fear of running out of fuel pushes the French to the pump, thus creating a vicious cycle. “People rushed to the supermarkets simply because of the fear of losing something and created disruptions that should not have happened”, an analysis in front of the TF1 microphone by Elizabeth Coney, founder of Madame Benchmark, who compares this situation to the pasta situation at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. When the closures were announced, consumers rushed to grab packs of pasta for fear of running out, creating shortages when stocks were at normal levels.

In the Nord and Pas-de-Calais departments, the difficulty of finding gasoline is particularly noticeable. Some cities, such as Arras or Bethune, suffered greatly from this shortage. So much so that the prefects of these two departments decided on Wednesday to ban the sale and purchase of fuel in canisters. To get out of this situation of scarcity, they called on the population “show civility and solidarity“.

Another reason for this shortage is that TotalEnergies also applies a discount of 20 euro cents per liter of gasoline, thus increasing the number of customers by 30-40%, the oil giant reports. Such attractive prices can partially explain the rush of motorists to individual stations. The group told TF1 Info that faced with this influx of new customers, it had enough to restock the pumps, but not necessarily in time due to logistical issues. Because, taking into account the demand, it is necessary to find more trucks to transport fuel and drivers to drive them.

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