15 Oct 2010

Call to release France's emergency fuel stocks

4:35 pm on 15 October 2010

Petrol distributors in France have urged the government to release emergency fuel stocks after strikes blocked most of the country's oil refineries.

Petrol consumption is up 50% this week as a result of panic buying.

The companies have also called for action to remove protesters blocking the country's fuel depots.

Earlier, French officials said there would be no shortages for at least a month, and warned against panic buying.

Unions are organising protests and strikes against government plans to raise the retirement age.

Eleven of France's 12 mainland refineries have so far been affected.

The distributors warn that unless action is taken will be petrol shortages across the country.

The BBC reports that France's strategic reserve consists of 17 million tonnes of refined fuel products and crude oil - the equivalent of 98.5 days of normal consumption.

Transport Secretary Dominique Bussereau told La Chaine Info television that there has been a 50% rise in petrol consumption this week as a result of panic buying.

Protests began after President Nicolas Sarkozy announced plans to raise the minimum retirement age from 60 to 62, and from 65 to 67 for a full state pension.

The BBC reports more than a million people took to the streets in the latest national protest on Tuesday.