France Turns to Emergency Oil Reserves Amid Strikes

France Turns to Emergency Oil Reserves Amid StrikesFrance Turns to Emergency Oil Reserves Amid Strikes

France has been relying on its strategic fuel reserves for the past two days in the face of widespread blockades of oil depots by union activists, head of the French oil industry federation said on Wednesday.

"For the past two days, since there have been operational problems at the refineries and blockades of depots, we have ... been using reserve supplies," Francis Duseux told French radio, AFP reported.

"At the worst, if the situation remains very tense, we will do this for three months," Duseux said, adding that consumers had "contributed a little" to the problem because they were panic-buying.

France has strategic oil reserves worth several months of consumption on which it can draw in emergencies. They were last used when unions blocked refineries for several weeks in protest against pension reforms in 2010.

The blockades are the latest battle in the war over a labor reform that the government says is crucial to fight rampant unemployment–stuck at more than 10% of the workforce–and which aim to make hiring and firing easier.

So far, the industrial actions have affected oil depots and refineries as well as train and metro strikes. On Wednesday, three out of four high-speed TGV trains were running and only four of five regional RER trains serving Paris suburbs were operational.