In France, fuel crisis frays nerves and workers’ resilience

Oct 14, 2022, 9:43 PM | Updated: Oct 15, 2022, 9:45 am
An empty gas station is pictured in Anglet, southwestern France, Friday, Oct.14, 2022. Continuing s...

An empty gas station is pictured in Anglet, southwestern France, Friday, Oct.14, 2022. Continuing strikes at TotalEnergies group refineries in France seriously disrupted fuel supplies Friday after the left-wing CGT union rejected a deal over a pay increase that two other unions had agreed to. Many gas stations have temporarily closed while awaiting deliveries. About 30% of France's gas stations are experiencing temporary shortages, with the Paris area and northern France most affected. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)

(AP Photo/Bob Edme)

VERSAILLES, France (AP) — Even close to midnight on a school night, the tipoff was too important to ignore: A nearby gas station had just been resupplied.

So Aicha Far scooped up her 6-year-old and set off into the night. The home carer needed to refuel her car so she could continue looking after the vulnerable people on the outskirts of Paris who rely on her to keep them fed, clean and safe. The prospect of a full tank was worth dragging the kid out of bed for.

“I wrapped him in a blanket and put him in the back,” Far recalled on Saturday, as she gently coaxed an older woman she looks after to drink her breakfast hot chocolate.

Chronic fuel shortages in France sparked by strikes and panic buying are fraying nerves and testing both the resilience and ingenuity of millions of French workers who depend on their vehicles to do their jobs.

More than a quarter of gas stations nationwide were still without one type of fuel or more on Saturday, the French energy minister said. In the Paris region, the number was above a third.

Motorists have sometimes lined up for hours to refuel — not always successfully — and tempers have flared.

In the town of Versailles, southwest of Paris, 41-year-old nurse Aurelie Martin is trying to eke out the precious fuel left in her tank — and bracing for the next time she’ll have to visit the pumps.

She is up well before dawn to give jabs, change dressings and dispense other essential medical care to dozens of patients each morning.

Rather than doing little hops in her Mini from one patient to the next, she’s increasingly scurrying on foot between them when she can, racking up 10 kilometers (six miles) of walking each morning to save fuel.

“I’m doing the bare minimum by car,” she said as she made her rounds on Saturday. “I had hoped up to now that the situation would improve, but unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be getting better.”

The strikes have hit French refineries and fuel depots. Strikers have demanded higher wages from what they feel should be their share of windfall profits generated by high oil and gas prices amid the global energy crisis aggravated by Russia’s war in Ukraine.

After runs on toilet paper, pasta and other essentials at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, fuel and where to find it are the latest obsessions in France. The government has urged motorists not to panic-buy. Some gas stations have banned jerrycans.

When Martin bumped into other nurses also making their early morning rounds on Saturday, gasoline was the first thing they talked about.

One nurse who’d run out of fuel told Martin that one of her patients was offering to lend her his car. On messaging groups, nurses share tips about gas stations that have been resupplied or that have priority pumps for them and other essential workers.

Martin said some of her fellow nurses have been yelled at by other motorists for trying to cut to the front of lines.

With 30 to 40 patients to home-visit per day, Martin knows she’ll need to refuel early next week.

“My day off is on Tuesday and I think the full tank that I had will last until then,” she said. “So on Tuesday, I’ll see if I need to spend the day lining up and that is what I will do if a gas station hasn’t been set aside for us.”

“Truth be told,” she added, “I have been pushing back the inevitable moment.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - This image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) sho...
Associated Press

WHO renames monkeypox as mpox, citing racism concerns

LONDON (AP) — The World Health Organization has renamed monkeypox as mpox, citing concerns the original name of the decades-old animal disease could be construed as discriminatory and racist. The U.N. health agency said in a statement Monday that mpox was its new preferred name for monkeypox, saying that both monkeypox and mpox would be […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Kimberly Palmer: Holiday survival tips from 5 financial pros

For Ryan Decker, surviving the holiday shopping season is all about planning ahead. In fact, if he sees a gift for one of his two young sons in March, he’ll go ahead and buy it, instead of rushing through his shopping list in December. “It very much eases the burden,” he says, making his December […]
1 day ago
Elderly residents are evacuated by a local organization from the southern city of Kherson, Ukraine,...
Associated Press

Ukraine on edge for more attacks, West eyes humanitarian aid

KYIV (AP) — Ukraine prepared for more Russian strikes on Monday and warned of the possibility for a new round of evacuations from the capital during a relative lull from the airstrikes on energy facilities and other key infrastructure in recent weeks. In the West, meanwhile, preparations were stepped up to boost humanitarian aid to […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Smallest German governing party stalls on citizenship reform

BERLIN (AP) — Senior members of the smallest party in Germany’s coalition government are seeking to hit the brakes on plans to ease the rules for obtaining German citizenship, arguing Monday that the government must first do more to ensure that people who are in the country illegally are deported. Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Interior […]
1 day ago
Wreaths hang on the Truman Balcony of the White House in Washington, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022. (AP Pho...
Associated Press

‘We the People’ is the White House’s theme for the holidays

WASHINGTON (AP) — Drawing decorating inspiration from America’s founding documents, Jill Biden chose a “We the People” theme to deck the White House halls and to remind Americans of what unites them throughout the year, especially during the holidays. Journalists were given a sneak peek early Monday before the first lady was to unveil the […]
1 day ago
FILE - Israel's Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu arrives for the swearing-in ceremony of Israe...
Associated Press

Israel’s Likud signs coalition deal with anti-LGBTQ radical

JERUSALEM (AP) — Former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has struck a coalition deal with a small ultranationalist faction leader known for homophobic rhetoric and disparaging remarks about non-Orthodox Jews, a sign of the prospective government’s hardline makeup. Netanyahu’s Likud party announced Sunday that the agreement names Noam faction leader Avi Maoz as a deputy […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
In France, fuel crisis frays nerves and workers’ resilience