French police clear oil depot after fuel protest

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 21, 2011 9:52 AM
French police clear oil depot after fuel protest

MARSEILLE (Reuters) - French police cleared access to a fuel depot at Fos-sur-Mer on the Mediterranean coast after fisherman protesting over rising fuel costs blocked the site for several hours earlier on Friday, the local authorities said.

The fisherman, who are demanding government measures to offset an increase in fuel prices linked to a crude oil rally, prevented the loading of tens of fuel lorries at what is the largest depot in the southern French region of Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur.

Rising fuel costs, partly due to upheaval in oil exporter Libya, have become a major political issue this month in France, where pump prices have hit record levels at some stations.

The depot protest by fisherman did not affect sea access to the nearby oil terminals of Fos-Lavera, a spokesman for the port of Marseille said.

The Fos-Lavera terminals were at the center of strike action in France's oil sector last year that brought refineries to a standstill and led to shortages at petrol pumps.

The dispute at Fos-Lavera last year was against port reform and dovetailed with wider protests against pension reform in a month-long movement that paralyzed the oil market.

In a separate dispute, French riot police on Thursday lifted a two-day blockade by ferry workers in another part of the Marseille port.

(Reporting by Jean-Francois Rosnoblet; writing by Gus Trompiz in Paris, editing by Ikuko kurahone and Keiron Henderson)