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Visiting France

French officials try to cap oil panic

media Oil and railworkers picket a refinery near Nantes on Saturday Reuters

Oil supplies to Paris’s airports were flowing again on Sunday, averting the danger that Charles de Gaulle/Roissy would run out of fuel on Monday. Government ministers desperately tried to calm fears of a shortage as panic-buying spread due to strikes hitting oil refineries.

The pipeline serving Roissy and Orly airports was back on stream Sunday. Earlier Roissy officials had said they did not have enough supplies to last beyond Monday but that threat is now lifted.

But aviation authorities are asking planes to refuel abroad because lower pressure means that there are still problems passing the oil through the pipeline.

Unions slammed the reopening of the pipeline, claiming it meant that planes are receiving potentially dangerous, untested fuel.

Shortages at Nice airport, in the south-east, could be resolved by bringing fuel in from Italy, Transport Minister Dominique Bussereau said, while shortages at Nantes, in the west, would be "resolved quickly,"

With the strike hitting all the country’s 12 oil refineries and closing ten, officials desperately tried to stem a wave of panic buying at the petrol pumps.

Bussereau said that hundreds of service stations are running dry after a 50 per cent jump in petrol sales last week.

But Oil Industry Association head Jean-Louis Schilansky insisted that they are receiving new stocks thanks to after the government authorised the use of extra-large 44-tonne trucks, usually banned for environmental reasons.

Disruption is expected Sunday and Monday on Paris city and regional transport, as well as on national railways, due to continuing strikes in the run-up to Tuesday’s one-day general strike over pension reform.

Unions are claiming success after Saturday's nationwide protests, while the government's supporters say the turnout was lower than on Tuesday's one-day general strike.
 

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