AA says 'relatively few' French petrol stations have run dry.
British holidaymakers planning road trips to France have been urged not to panic about reports of fuel blockades at refineries across the country.
French farmers have been blocking roads near refineries as part of protests surrounding imports of palm oil for use in biofuels, which is seen as a threat to domestic production from rapeseed. At the same time, rail strikes are increasing the French public’s demand for fuel.
As a result, some petrol stations are running short of fuel, sparking fears that motorists travelling to France may be left stranded with dry tanks.
According to the website penurie.mon-essence.fr, which monitors petrol stations in France, 144 stations are currently ‘partially’ out of service and 31 are completely closed, although the majority of shortages are around Paris, Lyon and Nantes. The south-west and far-east of the country are almost completely unaffected.
The situation may be set to improve, after Reuters reported that blockades were being removed from refineries after the government agreed to meet with the farmers’ union.
The AA has said tourists should not let the problems interfere with their holiday plans, but that drivers should be ‘sensible’ and fill up where they can, rather than allowing the fuel light to illuminate and hunting for a petrol station.
Edmund King, the AA’s president, said: ‘This dispute should not discourage anyone from continuing with their holiday plans. Relatively few fuel stations are affected and they are most likely at the busiest locations.
‘The French agriculture ministry has pointed out that it is local panic buying that leads to shortages while the ministry of transport has pointed out that the nation has a strategic stock equivalent to three months’ fuel supplies.
‘When you’re driving in an unfamiliar area and especially when driving abroad we’d always recommend filling up when you come across a filling station rather than waiting for the fuel light to come on. While a few sites may be running dry, the majority have no problems.
‘It will take a prolonged dispute before fuel supplies become a serious issue and the French government is able to release emergency stocks for just such a situation.’