Gasoline “shortage” at TotalEnergies: the government draws on its strategic stocks… what is it?

the essential
12% of service stations experience fuel supply difficulties. For the government, there is no shortage. Nevertheless, he resorted to his strategic actions.

In Toulouse, Lille or Paris, the scenarios are the same: dozens of meters in a line in front of TotalEnergies service stations and, very often, closed stations, with no price on the totem poles, due to lack of available fuel.

Since September 1, due to its 20 cent discount added to the government’s 30 cent rebate, TotalEnergies has shown the cheapest prices in France, all fuels combined. Cheaper than retail. A boon to motorists rushing to the pump at TotalEnergies to get their closing time delivered again. The strike by the TotalEnergies staff for a salary increase aggravates this situation.

“Stresses” but not “shortages”

One cannot speak of “scarcity”, considers the government spokesman Olivier Véran. He prefers to speak of “tensions” in the fuel supply. The government claims that 12% of service stations in France have difficulty supplying at least one fuel. The Hauts-de-France are particularly affected by more than 30%, in particular around Arras and Béthune. Thus, according to Olivier Véran, the government has “turned to strategic reserves (…) here and there” to supply the dry seasons.

Mandatory Strategic Reserves since 2009

Like other countries, France has a strategic oil reserve (PSR): gasoline for automotive and aeronautical use, gas oil, fuel oil, kerosene, heavy fuel oil and jet fuel (kerosene) . About 18 million tons that correspond to about 90 days of fuel consumption.

The stock is mainly managed by SAGESS (Société anonyme de gestion des stocks de sécurité). It has 80 storage sites and 8 refineries spread across France and an underground salt cavern site near Manosque in the Alpes de Haute Provence. The volumes must be kept permanently. Only the State can give the order to extract oil there and sets the quantities.

In France, it was in 1925 that we began to make the first strategic reserves. SAGESS was created in 1988. Since 2009, a European directive has imposed reserves of crude oil or petroleum derivatives on all Member States.

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