TotalEnergies: Pumps rush as strike continues – 06/10/2022 at 10:11 p.m

Pumps running dry at a petrol station in Marseille, October 6, 2022 (AFP / Nicolas TUCAT)

The plight of motorists was felt on Thursday at many petrol stations in France, which were often completely or partially deprived of fuel due to a ten-day wage strike at TotalEnergies that is blocking several refineries. According to the government, 15% of petrol stations are affected.

“We’ve been dry since Sunday,” said the manager of a TotalEnergies gas station in a working-class district of Paris on Thursday, who wished to remain anonymous.

Its gas pumps were surrounded by red and white warning tape to encourage motorists to pursue their search a little further. “Do you have diesel?” asks a customer before leaving without asking for silence when he is denied.

“Because it’s cheaper, everyone comes to us,” explains the manager, referring to the pump discount of 20 cents that TotalEnergies has been offering since September 1 in addition to the state discount.

Added to this influx of customers are the consequences of the strike movement at the call of the CGT, which is demanding a 10% salary increase for 2022.

“Normally we are supplied every two days, now it’s every three or four days,” said the station manager, who otherwise had “no information”.

“We are asking for a 10 percent increase: 7 percent for inflation and 3 percent for wealth distribution,” CGT union representative for the Normandy refinery, Pierre-Yves Hauguel, said on the sidelines of a general meeting.

“In the first six months of the year,” he recalls, TotalEnergies “made a profit of more than 20 billion euros” and “we expect 30 billion by the end of the year.”

“We are talking about a situation that affects 15% of the gas stations,” said Agnès Pannier-Runacher, Minister for the Energy Transition, on BFM TV on Thursday evening.

“We are in the process of increasing oil shipments from Belgium and from Rouen by boat (…). In addition, we have actually released some strategic stocks to support oil tankers more quickly,” she said, adding that the improvement in the situation ” a priori will last two or three days”.

At the request of AFP, the management of the group informed that “the situation is stable”.

Motorists wait to refuel in front of a TotalEnergies gas station in Marseille on October 6, 2022 (AFP / Nicolas TUCAT)

Motorists wait to refuel in front of a TotalEnergies gas station in Marseille on October 6, 2022 (AFP / Nicolas TUCAT)

TotalEnergies, which manages nearly one in three gas stations in France, refuses to share the number of dry fuel stations, but its online map shows that most of its 3,500 outlets are missing one or more fuels.

From northern to southern France, motorists hunt open stations and have to queue for a long time when they find them. Like Mahé Miredin, 34, near the Rennes ring road on Thursday morning, the advert was in the red: “This is the second station I’ve been to, I didn’t go far out and there was no diesel.”

– “It’s stretched” –

On several major boulevards in Marseille, almost half of the stations were closed and many motorists – several dozen vehicles – were queuing in hopes of filling up in front of those open stations, AFP noted.

Motorists wait to refuel in front of a TotalEnergies gas station in Marseille on October 6, 2022 (AFP / Nicolas TUCAT)

Motorists wait to refuel in front of a TotalEnergies gas station in Marseille on October 6, 2022 (AFP / Nicolas TUCAT)

And the problems will continue.

“Each of the sites informed us that the strike was extended,” Thierry Defresne, CGT secretary of the European works council TotalEnergies SE, told AFP.

The closed refinery in Normandy is still on strike, as is the “bio-refinery” La Mède (Bouches-du-Rhône) and the Flandres tank farm near Dunkirk (North).

“The loading base is blocked” also in Grandpuits (Seine-et-Marne), a site being converted into a “bio-refinery” that occasionally enters the movement.

A strike is also affecting Esso-ExxonMobil’s two French refineries, also on wages.

“It’s tense,” confirms Francis Pousse, president of service stations and new energies within the trade union Mobiliance (automotive service companies), which represents 5,800 traditional service stations (without mass distribution).

Emphasizing that since the beginning of September, the French oil tanker’s stations “were already live before the industrial tool was disrupted,” he adds that because of the conflict, “a reorganization of logistics” is now necessary. , resulting in “a much longer station deployment time”.

“We are not in want, since we have plans B”, with the import of products being “reinforced”, he softens.

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