(Bloomberg) -- A strike by workers at France’s oil refineries is disrupting fuel supplies in Europe’s third-largest economy, another blow to the country as it battles a sprawling energy crisis.
Workers have gone on strike at oil refineries that handle more than half the country’s fuelmaking. Two have fully halted while a third is moving toward running at technical minimum levels. Together they account for more than half of France’s capacity to make diesel, gasoline and other fuels. There’s also a strike at a fourth plant that was hobbled by a fire anyway.
The action stems from disagreement about pay and brings the impact of Europe’s cost-of-living crisis into sharp focus. The CGT union representing the workers is pushing the oil companies to improve their pay offers, pointing to the profit the firms made from soaring energy and oil prices.
The longer the action endures, the greater the potential damage it can do to France as it grapples with the recent surge in energy costs. The nation’s nuclear reactors are set to undergo more work this winter than previously planned, and Russia has cut gas flows to Europe sharply. Both developments have led to a spike in energy prices across the continent.
A prolonged strike could also have implications for France’s retail fuel prices, which have fallen sharply from their peaks earlier this year, tracking declines in oil prices and fuel markets elsewhere in the world.
Two Exxon Mobil Corp. refineries at Gravenchon and Fos, which together can meet about a fifth of France’s daily fuel demand, remain halted several days after industrial action caused both to stop processing crude, Christophe Aubert, an official with the CGT union, said by email on Tuesday.
Exxon confirmed as recently as Monday that both remained stopped.
In addition, TotalEnergies SE is cutting production to a technical minimum at its Normandy oil refinery, the nation’s largest, according to Thierry Defresne, secretary of the European workers’ committee at Total, and an official at CGT.
“In anticipation of the strike, TotalEnergies has taken the necessary logistical measures to be able to supply its service station network and its customers normally,” the company said in a statement.
Here’s what’s currently known about how strikes are affecting France’s oil refineries (figures in thousands of barrels a day):
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