“No shortage” but “no visibility” at gas stations

Desperate for fuel. Many motorists who wanted to refuel in the past few days had to be patient. The error of dry stations or queues sometimes stretching hundreds of meters. What are the reasons for this and how will the situation develop? 20 minutes absorbs these stresses at the pump.

How can the current difficulties with refueling be explained?

In view of rising prices, the government has been granting a discount of 30 cents per liter since September 1st. A boost that caused a rush at the gas pumps. “The demand for petrol stations was boosted by a system of rebates on the price of fuel, to which the total bonus (fixed at 20 cents) was added,” explains Frédéric Plan. The French giant saw a 30% to 40% increase in customers.

“We are observing a consumption phenomenon, the tanks are fuller than usual,” adds Frédéric Plan. That means longer gas station trips. “And therefore a logistical tension, reinforced by the strike movement affecting four refineries out of six, as well as several oil depots, including that of Dunkirk, one of the most important. “That’s the really problematic fact,” judges Frédéric Plan. “There is no shortage, the products are available but we cannot release them enough. »

On Wednesday, Xavier Bertrand, the president of the Hauts-de-France region (the hardest hit region, with 30% of the stations affected) challenged the government by deploring the consequences for “essential public services such as schools and road transport”.

Will prices go up?

Government spokesman Olivier Véran acknowledged “temporary tensions (…)” by stating that 12% of service stations are experiencing “difficulties with at least one type of fuel”. The former health minister added that the state had to “pull into strategic stockpiles to allow supplies to specific wards.” “On the French market, sea imports have increased significantly to compensate for the lack of output from these striking refineries,” explains Frédéric Plan. Boats also come with diesel and soon with petrol. This is done at prices that are above the market price. »

This partly explains why prices have started to rise again. On average, diesel increased by 3.6 cents. The situation could also change in the coming weeks with the decision of the OPEC+ countries to cut their production by two million barrels a day in November. This could result in a price increase, although Frédéric Plan is playing the uncertainty card: “Oil markets are surprising. OPEC can decide to reduce production and still we can see the barrel go up for a few days and then go back down. »

Will the situation continue?

The Total group announced that it would “mobilize to resupply the network thanks to additional logistical means”. However, the prospect of a cut in the government rebate from 30 to 10 centimes as of November 1 suggests that tensions are high. Especially since Total is reducing its discount from 20 to 10 cents at the same time.

“The last week of October is problematic in terms of consumer psychology, that applies to professionals as well as to private individuals,” says Frédéric Plan. “Everyone will say to themselves, ‘As long as I have to shop, I might as well do it as long as the discount is there.’ Naturally, there will be greater demand in the last week of October. »

“If the strike ends today or tomorrow, it could be over, but as long as the strike continues at the refineries, there will be problems with backsupply,” he continues. “We have no information about the status of negotiations that would allow an end to the strikes on supplies to refineries. Since we have no view, we wonder. drivers too.

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