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Oil tankers are being rerouted to Rotterdam to avoid the French port of Le Havre as intensifying strikes disrupt the industry and protesters block airports and trains and clash with police against presidential plans to raise the pension age.
According to Bloomberg, two crude oil tankers anchored off Le Havre were diverted to Rotterdam on Thursday, while several other tankers carrying refined fuel have also been diverted in recent days. Diesel and jet fuel vessels have also been diverted this week.
France is on track to lose 500,000 barrels a day of crude oil refining for the month of March as a result of the strikes and tanker diversions, Bloomberg reports, prompting the country to release strategic reserves to fill the gap.
On Thursday, protesters clashed with police across France, prompting a police response of tear gas and water cannons.
On Monday, four of France’s six refineries were slated to shut down amid strikes, with strikers blocking them from delivering products. On Tuesday, the government was attempting to requisition workers at the Fos depot, which led to clashes with police.
With strikes already ongoing for two weeks, nationwide protests intensified earlier this week when French President Emmanuel Macron forced an increase in the retirement through parliament without a vote. The pension reform would raise the retirement age by two years to 64.
On Thursday, force majeure was declared at the Dunkirk LNG terminal in northern France, Reuters reports, as operations were hindered by strikes and protests.
While Macron continues to order requisitions of workers for key refineries, unions vow to continue with their protest.
"We don't have any other choice but to go on strike and to block the economy until [Macron] surrenders and withdraws his project," Reuters cited Fabrice Criquet, FO-ADP union general secretary, as saying.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com