Refinery strikes and gas rationing: France’s energy supply chain collapsing
10/12/2022 // Ethan Huff // Views

Failing talks to resolve an energy industry strike in France has prompted the government there to initiate a "requisition" of essential workers to Exxon's French oil depot – meaning so-called "essential" workers will be forced to work.

Reports indicate that Total's French refineries could soon see the same if the union dispute situation is not resolved soon. France is already in dire straits due to Western sanctions against Russia, and now there are few willing to work unless pay and conditions improve.

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne made the requisition announcement on Tuesday, explaining that two unions, CGT and FO, have not reached a labor agreement. The CFDT union, however, did finalize an agreement with Exxon.

"Today some unions, despite the deal, wants to continue the strike action and blockades, we cannot accept that," Borne said to the lower house, adding that she wants "this situation to change fast."

"I have therefore asked the prefects, as permitted by law, to requisition the personnel needed for the functioning of the company's depots," she added, referring to Esso France. "The orders are ready."

Borne's comments came following others by France's energy minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher, who indicated that the government is "doing its utmost to restore the situation to normal as soon as possible."

CGT union calls government rhetoric "violent" while suspending all negotiations

This will not happen, though, unless major changes are made to satisfy the demands of the other two unions – and especially the CGT union, which one report describes as "militant."


CGT hit the pause button on negotiations following these statements by Borne and Pannier-Runacher, calling the government's requisition plans "violent." CGT also announced additional strikes at Total's Donges refinery.

This is on top of both CGT and FO union strikes at Total's 246,900 barrels per day (bpd) Gonfreville and 109,300 bpd Feyzin refineries, along with the company's petrochemicals plant in Carling.

"The FO Now, ExxonMobil's 219,000 bpd Donges refinery is being added to the list," one report explains.

"The FO union had workers striking at Exxon's 235,000 bpd Fos-Sur-Mer refinery, as well as its 270,000 bpd Port Jerome refinery, but FO called off its strike action on Monday, Argus said."

Taking much of the blame for all this is Emmanuel Macron, who delayed a final decision on his contested plans for pension reforms. Trade unions whose workers are frustrated over skyrocketing inflation want to know: why the delay?

In addition to the strikes, "unplanned maintenance" is also taking place at several refineries run by oil giants TotalEnergies and Exxon Mobil. This has left more than 60 percent of France's refining capacity offline with blocked distribution from fuel depots.

Roughly one-third of the country's fuel service stations are reportedly having trouble getting gas. And despite just days ago promising no rationing, the French government has suddenly changed its tune and rationing is now back on the table.

Some regions including the Alpes-Maritine, Var, and Vaucluse have already begun gas rationing as of Tuesday. Amid all this, diesel refining margins have reached record highs both across Europe and in the United States.

Check out the following video depicting fuel rationing and associated chaos taking place in France:

"As long as Ukrainian children get to have access to gender transformation surgeries it's all worth it right?" joked a commenter about something that is not funny and is actually quite disturbing and appalling.

"If you think it's bad now, wait until the EU embargoes itself from Russian crude on December 5," wrote another.

More news about the energy crisis in Europe can be found at

Sources for this article include:

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