French strikes: panic-buying at petrol pumps

Thursday, October 21, 2010
By Paul Martin

• A quarter of petrol stations run dry ahead of half-term break
• All 12 refineries and some fuel depots are blockaded

Angelique Chrisafis
GuardianUK
Thursday 21 October 2010

France faced another day of panic at the petrol pumps as refinery and oil depot protests continued despite government attempts to break the blockades over pension reforms. A quarter of the country’s petrol stations have run dry amid fears over how people would get away for the long half-term break that starts tomorrow. North and western France were the worst hit.

All of France’s 12 refineries and around 14 of its 219 fuel depots remained blockaded this morning. However, the environment minister, Jean-Louis Borloo, said the situation was “tending towards improving”.

The French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, yesterday ordered police to break up blockades at depots and a handful were lifted. But in towns including Caen and Ouistreham, as soon as depot blockades were dismantled there was panic-buying at local petrol pumps. Police could move in today to break the 10-day blockade of refineries.

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