The French government has promised to maintain national fuel supplies on the sixth day of an “all out” strike by Total refinery workers.
Motorists have been rushing to fill up at the pumps amid fears that workers at rival refineries will vote to join the strike over the planned closure of Total’s Dunkirk plant.
The French petroleum industry body UFIP says France keeps around a week’s worth of fuel supply on standby in case of emergency shortages but the prospect of rationing is alarming many people on the petrol station forecourts.
One woman said: “I have a driving school with four cars and we’re in the school holidays, so if I can’t drive it’s a disaster.”
A worried businessman said he feared an escalation of the action: “People are panicking but I think it’s the media who scare people, so they rush to get fuel even if there’s no need and they’re putting professionals in a difficult situation.”
France has over 12,500 petrol stations and Total supplies nearly half the country.
The government says it is not planning to tap into strategic fuel supplies. France has reserves of domestic diesel and gasoline designed to last for 120 days.