ANKARA – A looming energy crisis following the Russian war in Ukraine continues to dominate Europe’s agenda.
Fuel sales restrictions were imposed by another French regional administration on Wednesday, joining several others amid continued labor strikes at oil refineries, local authorities said.
The southern department of Pyrenees-Orientales joined other regions, including Vaucluse, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Hautes-Alpes, and Herault, in capping purchases for small vehicles at 30 liters (about 8 gallons) of fuel per day, while large vehicles will be able to receive a daily 120 liters, the local administration said on Twitter.
Certain priority vehicles, such as fire trucks, police cars, ambulances, school buses, and farmers and cold food chain vehicles, will receive special fuel quotas under the measures expected to end on Friday.
Authorities have promised to end an ongoing fuel shortage in the country, despite a call by the country's largest labor union to resist a government decision to force striking oil refinery workers back on the job.
France's Ministry of Ecological Transition announced Wednesday it will force strikers at a refinery in the northern region of Normandy to work as the country faces gas shortages.
The workers at the ExxonMobil refinery in Gravenchon-Port-Jerome among others have been striking for better pay and working conditions.
As a result, a third of French gas stations are struggling with supply bottlenecks.
Long queues are seen outside gas stations that are still supplied with gasoline.
Polish pipeline operator PERN said Wednesday it detected a leak on Tuesday evening in one of the two lines of the Druzhba pipeline, the main line carrying Russian oil to Germany.
The leak, on one of the two strands of the western section of the pipeline, was found in the city of Wloclawek, 70 kilometers (43.5 miles) from the country’s oil hub Plock in central Poland, PERN said in a press release.
"The cause of the incident is unknown at the moment - pumping in the damaged line was shut down immediately. The other oil pipeline is operating without changes," it said.
"The spill of the semi-finished crude oil from the oil pipeline operated by PERN occurred from a pipe of an average of 80 cm with a pressure of 30 atm,” fire brigade spokesman Karol Kierzkowski told reporters.
He said firefighters are operating in the vicinity of the village of Zurawice in the neighboring municipality of Boniewo.
"We are still looking at the leak in a nearby cornfield. It is not easy, because everything is obscured by the semi-finished oil that has flowed into the field," Kierzkowski told Poland's PAP news agency on Wednesday morning.
He said the leak will cause damage to the environment.
The Belgian government on Tuesday announced taxes on the revenues of energy companies in a bid to raise 3.1 billion euros (USD3.01 billion).
Energy Minister Tinne Van der Straeten said in a tweet they plan to receive crisis contributions from electricity producers and fossil fuel companies amid the energy crisis European countries are facing as Russia threatens to cut off the gas supply to Europe.
The tax on energy companies with revenues over 180 euros per MWh is expected to raise 3.1 billion euros from January 2022 until June 2023.
She said that the energy bill assistance to be provided to households has been extended until March thanks to the crisis contribution.
An additional discount of 588 euros will be provided on the country's gas and electricity bills for the months of January, February, and March.
The government will give a total of 980 euros to the households for gas and electricity bills this winter, she added. (Anadolu)