Lots of gas stations sold out, but why?

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

Across France, motorists are having trouble finding petrol at petrol stations, reports TF1 Info, Wednesday October 5. But why this fuel shortage?

Bad news for drivers.

Average fuel prices have been rising again since last week. Diesel increased by 3.6 cents or 1.70 euros per liter and 95-E10 by 3.1 cents or 1.52 euros per liter. This is the first price increase at the pump since the end of August. The French are also facing another difficulty: the lack of fuel at petrol stations, reports TF1 Info, Wednesday October 5th.

In Nîmes, in the Gard department, one of two petrol stations has run out of fuel. “I’ve been looking for one for at least 20 minutes and can’t find a station”, a driver complained to Franceinfo, Tuesday October 4th. This fuel shortage is particularly related to strikes in refineries. In view of this tense situation, the government, which is granting a discount of 30 cents per liter until the end of October, wanted to calm things down. “There is no cut”, tempered Olivier Véran at the end of the Council of Ministers, Wednesday October 5th. The government spokesman admits that “12% of service stations have difficulties with at least one type of fuel”.

The factors that explain these tensions

So how do you explain this lack of fuel or at least these delivery bottlenecks at gas stations? On the one hand, the strike movement within the TotalEnergies refineries paralyzes production. Refinery workers are demanding a 10 percent wage increase. Of the eight French refineries, six will be closed for the time being, including that in Normandy, the largest in France. According to Les Echos, only the Donges (Loire-Atlantique) and Grandpuits (Seine-et-Marne) refineries did not vote to resume the strike and resumed normal activity.

On the other hand, the fear of a lack of petrol drives the French to the pump, setting in motion a vicious circle. “It was just out of fear of missing out that people rushed into the supermarkets and actually caused disruptions that weren’t supposed to be.”, Analysis on the microphone by TF1 Élisabeth Cony, founder of Madame Benchmark, who compares this situation to that of Pasta at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. When the lockdown was announced, consumers rushed to packs of noodles in fear of running out, leading to a shortage when stocks were at normal levels.

Difficulties in obtaining petrol are particularly evident in the departments of Nord and Pas-de-Calais. Some cities like Arras or Béthune are hard hit by this shortage. So much so that the prefects of the two departments concerned decided on Wednesday to ban the sale and purchase of fuel in cans. In order to get out of this shortage situation, they called on the population to “Demonstrate courtesy and solidarity“.

Another reason for this shortage is that TotalEnergies offers a discount of 20 eurocents per liter of petrol, thereby increasing its customer base by 30 to 40%, according to the oil giant. These attractive prices can partly explain the rush of motorists to certain gas stations. The group told TF1 Info that given this influx of new customers they had enough to fill up the pumps, but not necessarily in time due to logistical concerns. In view of the demand, it is then necessary to find more trucks to transport the fuel and drivers to drive them.

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