Four weeks of ongoing protests against French President Emmanuel Macron's pension reform have left the country's refineries and refinery operations struggling as workers join the growing nationwide industrial protests. Meanwhile, prices for European crude are down due to low demand in France.
The strikes began in February but escalated this month after Macron used a parliamentary clause, 49:3, to push through his controversial pension reform without a vote in Parliament. The pension reform raised the retirement age in France from 62 to 64 and sent the country's citizens into protest.
Macron's passage of the reform without a vote pushed workers over the edge and led to further protests and street blockades in Paris and other cities around France. Workers from the refineries and ports have joined the protests leaving the fuel industry struggling.
The strikes have caused disruptions to power supply, refining operations, and fuel delivery for almost a month. Most of France's refineries have been shut down by the strikes or are struggling to work at reduced capacity. Strikes among port workers have also led to a shortage of crude deliveries, which has also prevented the discharging of crude cargo.
Despite France having 4 LNG receiving terminals in Dunkirk, Montoir, Fos Cavaou, and Fos Tonkin, the strikes have affected LNG imports entering France as the import terminals have been closed.
The impact of the strikes is beginning to be felt by consumers, with 17 percent of gas stations missing at least one fuel product as of Monday, according to the French petroleum association UFIP.
Despite the refining issues in France, European gasoline refining margins hit their highest since October, hitting $23 a barrel.
However, according to traders, the lack of demand for French crude is driving down prices of crude oil grades from the Caspian region, West Africa, and the North Sea.
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