Donges, the second refinery of France, the Total group, is blocked Thursday morning, at the call of the CGT. What impact on the supply of petrol stations?
The second refinery in France, the Total group, was blocked for 24 hours between 5 am Tuesday, and Wednesday 5 pm. Thursday morning as part of a new day of action calling for the withdrawal of the Labour law, the CGT union calls for a new blockage. This should last until Friday, 1.30pm. The blockages, combined with the fear of running out of gas, and the need to replenish after a long weekend, have resulted in significant queues in service stations.
What is the situation at the Donges refinery?
“Not a drop comes out,” according to the CGT. From 5am on Tuesday to 5 pm Wednesday, it was already impossible to approach the industrial site. It’s the same situation Thursday morning. The union have indeed called for a new blockage. This time, it will last a little longer, until 1.30pm on Friday.
The Total Group website, which refines ten million tons of crude oil per year, provides all the Atlantic coast and the UK via a linked deposit pipeline located in Vern-sur-Seiche. This area includes, of course, the entire Loire-Atlantique.
Normally, tankers come to the refinery for deliveries to the areas petrol stations. With the blockage, deliveries have been disrupted. Tankers came as usual yesterday, and some stations were able to get a delivery.
On Thursday, as all valves are closed again, we can expect new tensions. Are the gas station queues a result of the strike? Yes … and no. “We should analyze everything ” comments Christophe Hiou, from the CGT. Some pumps were indeed simply dry because of the long weekend. The pumps could not be replenished as usual as many of the drivers,have not passed the lines into the refinery!
The fear of shortage
Moreover, media coverage around such social actions may have more impact than the blocking as such. “There is something irrational,” observes one expert. It is feared shortages, so we rushed at a gas station attendant … and scarcity arrives.
But for the Total group, the critical situation will not be reached in one day. How are the Loire-Atlantic service stations? Those that provided directly from the refinery by tankers can turn to other sources. In times of hardship, the fuel import is always possible … But it needs more transport.
What will happen over the coming days? The majority of the CGT, at present have ruled not to extend the action for the moment, although they will consider the possibility of a tougher stance by prolonging action for three days or even a week.