French Strikes Leave Millions of Barrels of Oil Stuck on Tankers

A fleet of tankers carrying millions of barrels of oil is backed up off the coast of France as strikes over pension reform rumble on.

Vessels holding at least 14 millions of barrels of crude oil are currently floating off the country’s shores, according to tanker-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg. With strikes hampering port operations, supplies are being disrupted and some ships bringing in fuel have sailed to other countries.

France is heavily reliant on crude imports but the rate of arrivals more than halved so far this month, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from analytics firm Kpler. The country’s domestic fuel production from its oil refineries is simultaneously being crushed by strikes.

Union officials representing workers at TotalEnergies SE and ExxonMobil Corp., which between them run the vast majority of France’s fuel-making plants, said there is currently no end date for the strikes, which have been going on for weeks.

Of the crude currently floating, about 11 million barrels is near Fos, a port on the country’s south coast where — along with neighboring Lavera — key oil terminals aren’t expected to carry out any tanker cargo operations until at least the end of the month.

France has sizable strategic fuel stockpiles, some of which it has been releasing to avoid shortages.

Traders have been trying to resell crude oil from Kazakhstan that would likely have gone into the French refining system. However, strong Asian demand for the barrels has prevented prices from sliding.

–With assistance from Sharon Cho, Sherry Su, Bill Lehane and Rachel Graham.

Photograph: Christophe Simon/AFP/Getty Images

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