“We had our last truck delivery on September 29. It lasts about two days and it’s over. We’ve been dry since Sunday”, testifies Thursday the manager of a TotalEnergies station in a popular district of Paris , who wishes to remain anonymous.
Its pumps are surrounded by red and white warning tape to encourage motorists to pursue their quest a little further. “Do you have diesel?” asks a customer, sticking his head through the doorway, before leaving without asking for his rest when he is answered in the negative.
“As it’s cheaper, everyone comes to us,” explains the manager, who refers to the pump discount of 20 cents granted since September 1 by TotalEnergies, in addition to the State discount.
Added to this ransom of glory are now the consequences of the strike movement at the call of the CGT, which is demanding a salary increase of 10% for the year 2022, in order to take into account the company’s record profits and to offset inflation.
“Usually, we are delivered every two days, now it is every three, four days”, testified the station manager, who for the rest, has “no information”.
TotalEnergies, which manages nearly one in three service stations in France, refuses to give the number of dry stations, but its online map shows that most of its 3,500 points of sale lack one or more fuels.
From north to south of France, motorists hunt for open stations, and when they find one, have to queue for a long time for a full tank. Like Mahé Miredin, 34, near the Rennes ring road on Thursday morning and whose gauge was in the red: “This is the second station I’ve been to, I went out not far and there was no diesel”.
And the problems will continue.
“Each of the sites told us that the strike was renewed,” Thierry Defresne, CGT secretary of the European works council TotalEnergies SE, told AFP.
The Normandy refinery, which has been shut down, is still on strike, as is the La Mède “bio-refinery” (Bouches-du-Rhône), and the Flandres fuel depot, near Dunkirk.
“The loading base is blocked” in Grandpuits (Seine-et-Marne), a site being converted into a “bio-refinery”, and which occasionally enters the movement.
“TotalEnergies, to break the strike, prefers to buy diesel, kerosene and now gasoline on the international market, while France had a gasoline surplus, at a much higher price,” lamented Mr. Defresne.
– Logistics reorganization –
Added to this is a strike affecting the two French refineries of Esso-ExxonMobil, also for wages.
“It’s tense”, confirms Francis Pousse, president of service stations and new energies within the professional union Mobiliance (automotive service companies).
If he underlines that since the beginning of September, “even before the disruption of the industrial tool, the stations of the French oil company were in tension”, he adds that “a reorganization of the logistics”, necessary because of the conflict, creates “a much longer station provisioning time”.
Clearly: while refineries usually supply depots and partly the ports, it is now necessary to obtain supplies partly from the ports, explains Mr. Pousse, who represents 5,800 traditional service stations (excluding mass distribution).
“We are not in shortage, since we have plans B which are the import of products”, which has been “reinforced”, however tempers Mr. Pousse, who also mentions the “famous strategic stocks of the State”, which the government admitted on Wednesday to have used.
“The fuels will arrive”, assured Olivier Gantois, president of Ufip Energies and Mobilities, spokesperson for oil companies, on France Info. According to him, the situation will “be better as of today”, thanks to additional imports.