This Tuesday, March 7, the watchword of the inter-union is to “bring France to a halt”. The CGT Énergie took it literally and decided, early this morning, to block all fuel shipments to refineries.

Even before this sixth day of mobilization, the CGT had called for a renewable strike and had asked to block the supply of fuel. Something to bring back bad memories to motorists. After the long weeks of shortages in September and October 2022, should we anticipate future fuel shortages?

The government and professionals in the sector want to be reassuring. “Today, there is fuel in service stations. Stocks in distributors’ depots are also at a high level of filling”, assures the Ministry of Energy Transition (comments reported by Le Parisien). According to the government, the country’s 11,000 service stations can be supplied with fuel for another three to four months “thanks to commercial and strategic reserves”.

Same observation at TotalEnergies, whose 3,600 service stations represent a third of the gasoline fleet. “There is no shortage of fuel. In addition, stocks in depots and service stations are at a high level”, says a spokesperson for the company (comments reported by Le Parisien).

The situation seems to be under control. However, will she stay that way? Energy unions could completely block fuel supplies as part of the mobilization against pension reform. Mobilizations and blockades began early this morning.

“We have had no lead-free 95 since last night, nor lead-free 98 for an hour”, explains this Monday morning, an employee of Total to our colleagues from La Voix du Nord. Motorists take their precaution: they worry about the effect of the strike on the availability of gasoline and rush to the pump. And for good reason, no shipment of fuel from refineries will take place this Tuesday.

“All the refineries have been blocked”, announced the CGT-Chimie and TotalEnergies to AFP. Some oil depots are also blocked, such as Le Mans (Sarthe). The movement could extend to the 200 fuel depots spread throughout the territory. “In the coming days, I think we will see an increase in the number of dry stations”, prophesies Emmanuel Lépine, general secretary of CGT chemistry (comments reported by Le Parisien).

“Everything will depend on the extent and duration of these blockages. If it’s two or three days, we have enough to hold on to. But if the refineries enter the dance, like last fall, then it will complicate the gives”, anticipates Frédéric Plan, spokesperson for the French Federation of fuels, fuels

Mobilized since this Sunday, March 5, truck drivers could prevent shipments from depots to service stations. They would then be dried up in a few days.

This Tuesday, filter dams and occupations of roundabouts are taking place “a bit everywhere in the departments”, declares Fabrice Michaud, secretary general of the CGT Transports. Snail operations also take place on major highways. “In principle, we do not have the right to use our trucks. But we put cars in front and we follow behind”, explains a union official (comments reported by Le Parisien).

Truckers are not the only ones to threaten the balance of the fuel supply chain. It could be broken by dockworkers and port workers.

The National Federation of Ports and Docks has called for a 48-hour work stoppage, until Wednesday March 8. The operation called “dead ports” should have a strong impact on the activity of the port of Le Havre. However, the port of Le Havre, with its Antifer terminal, is one of the oil terminals largely responsible for supplying French refining.

According to Le Parisien, dockers could cut off crude oil supplies from the Middle East, Algeria, Nigeria or Libya. Refineries and depots would then no longer be supplied.

“The worst would be a conjunction of blockages. If a single link is blocked, for example refineries, we can play on imports. And vice versa. But if the movement drags on and the whole chain is affected, that’s it becomes more complicated”, concludes Olivier Gantois, president of the French Union of Petroleum Industries (Ufip).