France's fuel price protest spreads to other EU nations

The blockades of refineries and fuel depots by truckers, farmers, and fishermen that began in France has spread to the UK, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands and is likely to extend to other countries in the next few days. A decision by OPEC to boost collective oil production by 800,000 b/d apparently has done little to appease the ire of these groups�and others whose profitability depends heavily on fuel prices, such as taxi drivers and tour operators�over high fuel prices in the EU.


The blockades of refineries and fuel depots by truckers, farmers, and fishermen that began in France more than a week ago has spread to the UK, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands and is likely to extend to other countries in the next few days. A decision by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to boost collective oil production by 800,000 b/d apparently has done little to appease the ire of these groups�and others whose profitability depends heavily on fuel prices, such as taxi drivers and tour operators�over high fuel prices in the European Union.

The British and German governments vowed not to give in to demonstrators who obstructed traffic and blockaded refineries Monday, according to an Associated Press story. "We cannot and we will not alter government policy on petrol through blockades and pickets," AP quoted British Prime Minister Tony Blair as saying.

Blair and German Transport Minister Reinhard Klimmt said their countries would not follow the example set by France, which yielded last week to demands to subsidize fuel prices (OGJ Online, Sept. 5, 2000). Protests have continued in several French cities since the government announced its concessions.

"I see no reason at the moment why we should compensate for this through taxation," Klimmt told ARD television.

Protesters in Britain blocked fuel shipments out of six refineries, according to the BBC, including two in the South Killingholme area: Conoco Ltd.'s 180,000 b/d refinery and Lindsey Oil Refinery Ltd.'s 192,000 b/d plant. AP reported that about 200 fuel stations in northern England were closed today due to their inability to receive supplies.

In Belgium, protesters impeded traffic in the center of Brussels and blockaded the country's largest refinery. Talks between the Belgian transport minister and drivers continued, with both sides refusing to back down.

Traffic was also halted on a major highway in the Netherlands between Breda and the refining center at Rotterdam. Similar protests took place in Germany and Sicily, and threats of strikes have been made in Italy and Ireland.

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