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BMI Industry View
BMI View: French energy policy is subject to change following Francois Hollande’s election victory.
Nuclear energy in particular is under the spotlight, with the existing commitment set to be diluted in
favour of renewables. Hollande has restated a goal of reducing nuclear generation to 50% of the
electricity mix, from 75% currently. This leaves the door open for gas to play a larger role. Overall, the
future of energy growth is uncertain and the outlook for refiners and fuel distributors remains poor.
The main trends and developments in the French oil & gas sector are:
- President Hollande in September 2012 reiterated France's moratorium on hydraulic fracturing
(fraccing), which effectively bans exploration for shale oil/gas and dashed industry hopes that he
might soften his stance. During the keynote address at the Environmental Summit in Paris, the
French President said that he had rejected seven applications to open up shale gas acreage to
exploration and that this would be his policy throughout his term in office. At the same time, he
restated a goal of reducing nuclear generation to 50% of the electricity mix, down from 75
- A French court in October 2012 refused all bids received for the Petit-Couronne oil refinery
operated formerly by insolvent oil firm Petroplus. The court said it would consider new offers
until November 5 2012, but there was no sign of a resolution at the time of writing. Several
potential rescuers had earlier expressed interest in the Normandy refinery, including Hong-
Kong-based Alafandi Petroleum Group and NetOil, a group led by Middle Eastern
businessman Roger Tamraz. There have been suggestions that Libya’s sovereign wealth fund
could invest in the plant.
- Gas demand is expected to rise more quickly than oil demand, with new sources of supply being
lined up by GdF Suez, which has signed import agreements with Egypt in addition to those
already signed with Russia, Norway, Algeria and the Netherlands. Gas consumption is forecast
to reach 51.8bn cubic metres (bcm) in 2016, climbing further to 56.8bcm by 2021, subject to
revisions in French energy policy. Gas production is negligible, meaning that imports could rise
significantly to a high of around 56.3bcm by the end of our 10-year forecast period, in 2021.
- In May 2011, EdF and Total confirmed that they would proceed with the US$2.2bn Nord-Pasde-
Calais Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project at Dunkirk, which is expected to add between
10bcm and 13bcm of import capacity when it comes onstream. There are also plans to expand
capacity at the Montoir-de-Bretagne terminal to 16.5bcm by 2014.
- Thanks to improved energy efficiency and efforts to reduce oil dependency, oil demand is now
expected to remain mostly flat over our 10-year forecast period to 2021. We forecast oil
consumption reaching 1.88mn barrels per day (b/d) by 2016, edging higher to 1.96mn b/d in
2021. Crude oil imports are expected to exceed 1.90mn b/d in 2021.
- Crude oil imports will cost an estimated US$67.7bn in 2012, falling to US$61.9bn in 2016. With
virtually no domestic gas supply, we expect French gas imports of 51.2bcm in 2016, costing
US$23.8bn. Combined crude oil and gas imports are expected to cost France US$85.6bn by
2016. At the time of writing we assume an OPEC basket oil price for 2012 of US$107.10/bbl,
falling to US$99.10/bbl in 2013.The assumptions for 2016 and 2021 are US$93.25 and