French fuel stocks not normal for 'several days': govt

22nd October 2010, Comments 0 comments

Emergency measures to restore fuel supplies to French forecourts will take "several days" to return the situation to normal, amid ongoing strike action, the prime minister's office said Friday.

"At a time when many French people wish to travel for the November 1 holiday weekend, it is in everyone's interest to make all necessary efforts to return the situation to normal, which will take several more days," said a statement from Prime Minister Francois Fillon's office.

Transport Minister Jean-Louis Borloo said the government has no immediate plans to introduce fuel rationing, despite shortages caused by strikes by workers defending their right to retire at 60.

Petroleum traders' association UFIP said after crisis talks with the government that the resupply of strike-hit French filling stations will take longer than planned with motorway stations a priority.

"There will be a particular effort made for motorway stations ahead of the holiday travel period" during the 12-day break starting when schools break up Friday, said UFIP president Jean-Louis Schilanksy.

For two months France has been in the grip of a wave of protests against President Nicolas Sarkozy's bid to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62 and to set the latest threshold for full pension payments at 67.

Over the past 11 days France's 12 oil refineries have been disrupted by strikes, and on Friday around one in five filling stations had run out of fuel, Borloo told reporters.

The Senate was due to vote on Sarkozy's pensions reform bill later in the day, and it could be formally adopted into law as early as next week.

© 2010 AFP

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