Macron Accuses U.S. Of Double Standards In Gas Exports
…Even as US Oil Exports to France Falls to Zero Amid Refinery Strikes
Crude oil exports from the United States to France have fallen to zero for the first time in four years, a Bloomberg report said last weekend, citing industrial action at French refineries that has now spilled into other sectors as well.
On the other hand, French President, Emmanuel Macron has alleged that US trade and energy policies created a “double standard”, which makes Europe pay higher prices for its natural gas.
Citing tanker tracking data, the Bloomberg report says that no U.S. crude has been shipped over the Atlantic to France since the start of October. Flows were instead re-routed to Denmark and Italy, according to Vortexa.
For over three weeks, refinery workers in France had been in the streets, asking for higher wages in response to excessive inflation.
Most trade unions involved in the industrial action eventually struck agreements with Exxon and TotalEnergies, but one hardline left union has continued to strike.
The strike has led to severe fuel shortages across France and has spilled over into other sectors, too, including nuclear energy, where urgent maintenance work has been delayed because of the industrial action.
Railway workers are also calling for a strike.
Earlier last week, government ordered refinery workers to return to one fuel depot and more, or may be requisitioned for another one to alleviate the shortages.
Indeed, the latest update from the CGT union is that workers at two TotalEnergies sites have ended their strike, signaling a weakening momentum that could lead to the end of shortages and the resumption of U.S. oil flows to the country.
Even so, returning to normal will take time: Exxon has said that the restart of its refineries in France after industrial action there ended earlier this month will take between two and three weeks.
The strikes shut down some 70 percent of France’s refining capacity and led to fuel shortages in different parts of the country, prompting effective rationing with drivers only allowed to fill their tanks if they were empty and with limited amounts of gasoline.
Meanwhile following Russia’s complete halt of natural gas shipments into France, the country has turned to the United States for LNG, but Macron says he is unhappy with the price it’s paying.
Reports say U.S. natural gas exports to France increased 421% during the first eight months of 2022—but the value of that LNG increased by 1094% in August alone due to the higher prices of LNG.
“The North American economy is making choices for the sake of attractiveness, which I respect, but they create a double standard,” Macron explained at a Brussels news conference last weekend, with the United States enjoying low energy prices at home, while exporting at record prices.
“In addition, they allow state aid going to up to 80% on some sectors while it’s banned here — you get a double standard. It comes down to the sincerity of transatlantic trade,” Macron added.
The French president had earlier last week referred to both the United States and Norway as those who are reaping “the real superprofits,” in what he calls benefiting from “geopolitcal war unearned income.”
With ties already strained over the previously botched nuclear deal between France and the United States, Macron is scheduled to visit the United States in early December, and the subject of energy is likely to be a prime focus.