Strikes Cripple France's Fuel Supply
By Tsvetana Paraskova of OilPrice.com
Four weeks of protests against the pension reform in France have crippled supply to French refineries and refinery operations as workers join the nationwide industrial action, while prices for European crude grades are depressed due to low French demand.
Earlier this month, French President Emmanuel Macron pushed through with a controversial pension reform without a vote in Parliament under a parliamentary clause known as 49:3. The pension reform proposes to raise the retirement age in France by two years to 64.
The strikes in France against the reform began in February and escalated this month, with workers in many sectors, including refinery and port workers, joining the industrial action.
Macron’s move without a parliamentary vote sparked even more protests and street blockades in Paris and other cities in the country.
The strikes have disrupted power supply, refining operations, and fuel deliveries for four weeks. Now, most of France’s refineries are either shut down by strikes or working at heavily reduced capacity, also because of a lack of crude deliveries due to strikes among port workers, which prevent the discharging of crude cargoes.
Apart from refining operations, the strikes have disrupted LNG imports into France as LNG import terminals have been shut down. France has four LNG receiving terminals, Dunkirk, Montoir, Fos Cavaou, and Fos Tonkin.
The four weeks of strikes have crippled refined product supply in France, where 17% of fuel stations were missing at least one fuel product as of Monday, according to French petroleum association UFIP, cited by Reuters.
At the same time, gasoline refining margins in Europe have jumped to $23 per barrel, the highest since October.
But the lack of French crude demand is weighing down on the prices of the crude oil grades from the North Sea, the Caspian region, and West Africa, traders told Reuters.