| 23 February 2024, Friday |

Belgian motorists beat fuel inflation with cross-border trips to France

Long queues of Belgian automobiles are parked at gas stations close to the French border where gas can be more than 30 cents ($0.30) less per litre due to French government support for gasoline prices.

Since September 1, when 3,500 of TotalEnergies’ French gas stations began offering an additional 20 cents off per litre refund, lines have grown significantly longer. A 30 euro cent per litre government-funded rebate that has been offered at all French gas stations for a number of months was added to that rebate.

Christophe Bourgois, 29, a builder, said it was worth his while to drive to the French border town of Halluin from his Belgian home town of Comines.

“Gas prices here are 30 cents cheaper. It’s a good deal. On a full tank, you can feel the difference,” he said as he waited his turn in a line of cars.

Belgian assembly line worker Luc Cokelaere, 61, agreed.

“I live in Ledegem, about 7 kms (4.35 miles) from the border so why wouldn’t I come here if I can save 10 euros on fuel with such a small detour?” he said.

As he and other drivers lined up, French police had to direct the traffic to prevent jams.

Gas station operator Marc Braems, who opened his station some 30 years ago, said that in one day he had seen double the number of customers and sold more than triple the volume of gas as a result of discounts offered by the government and TotalEnergies.

“The problem we may encounter is to get fuel delivered on time. We have large reservoirs, but given the flow we are experiencing now, it goes down faster than we can fill it,” he said.

TotalEnergies said on Thursday that the 20 euro cents discount would run until October 31 and would then fall to 10 cents per litre from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31.

  • Reuters