13 June 2018
As the annual exodus of many drivers setting off for France gathers pace, protesting French farmers have started to blockade refineries and fuel depots across the country.
The protests concern plans by French oil company Total to import palm oil to be used in biofuels which farmers see as a threat to their production of domestic biofuel from rapeseed. This comes on top of rail strikes which have pushed freight and commuters on to the roads, increasing demand for fuel.
According to the website penurie.mon-essence.fr which maps French fuel stations, around 76 were either low on supplies or had run out, mainly around Paris and at Nantes, at midday on 12 June (157 by 9am on 13 June).
Relatively few stations are affected
Edmund King, AA president says: “This dispute should not discourage anyone from continuing with their holiday plans. Relatively few fuel stations are affected and they are most likely at the busiest locations.
“The French agriculture ministry has pointed out that it is local panic buying that leads to shortages while the ministry of transport has pointed out that the nation has a strategic stock equivalent to three months’ fuel supplies.”
The AA, which provides European Breakdown Cover managed from a call centre in Lyon, advises drivers to fill up before leaving the UK, pointing out that a full tank of fuel will take most cars at least 300 miles.
When you’re driving in an unfamiliar area and especially when driving abroad we’d always recommend filling up when you come across a filling station rather than waiting for the fuel light to come on
Adds King: “When you’re driving in an unfamiliar area and especially when driving abroad we’d always recommend filling up when you come across a filling station rather than waiting for the fuel light to come on. While a few sites may be running dry, by far the majority have no problems.
“It will take a prolonged dispute before fuel supplies become a serious issue and the French government is able to release emergency stocks for just such a situation.
“Keep calm and carry on driving,” King says.