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Petrol stations hit as French refinery strike continues for 10th day

Messages reading "out of order" are seen at a Total petrol station in Reze near Nantes, France.

Nearly 10 percent of petrol stations across the French capital are having trouble getting enough fuel supplies, as strikes in four refineries continue for the tenth day, a government spokesman has announced.

"There are temporary problems regarding distribution," said spokesman Olivier Veran on Friday in interviews with local broadcast networks, while insisting that France had enough supplies of petrol overall.

He further insisted that 90 percent of petrol stations in the Paris area had no problems, although 15 percent of fuel stations in France overall were experiencing these "temporary difficulties."

The strike action at four TotalEnergies refineries, in addition to unplanned maintenance, has taken offline more than 60 percent of France's refining capacity -- equivalent to 740,000 barrels per day (bpd) -- forcing the major European country to import more fuel while global supply uncertainty has increased the cost.

This is while a walkout by CGT trade union members at TotalEnergies mainly over wages has disrupted operations at two refineries and two storage facilities. Two other refineries owned by the US-based Exxon Mobil have also faced similar problems since September 20, according to local press reports.

Nothing has changed at the four TotalEnergies sites since Wednesday, said CGT spokesperson Thierry Defresne as cited in wire reports.

The strike is part of wider industrial action across France - over demands for pay hikes, pensions and purchasing power amid surging inflation across Europe, which has also led to strikes at nuclear reactors restricting power supply.

The French government said earlier this week that France had tapped its strategic fuel reserves to resupply petrol stations that have run dry, amid the strikes by workers at refineries and depots that have curbed production and blocked deliveries.

The UFIP petroleum industry body said the shortages at fuel pumps were caused by logistics and not insufficient supplies, noting that the draw on storage had no impact on the national level of reserves.

"It is flexibility given to some regions to tap and balance with other regions who have surplus," said a UFIP spokesperson about the stock draw.

According to local news outlets, in the hardest-hit Hauts-de-France region, close to the border with Belgium, authorities have banned the sale of petrol and diesel in jerry cans and other portable containers.

Meanwhile, the prefect of the Nord department around the city of Lille was also cited as saying that he had called on some petrol stations on Wednesday evening to ensure that health emergency workers were given priority.

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