France: Energy profile

world | Jun 08, 2007 | By EnerPub 

In 2004, France consumed 11.2 quadrillion Btu of total energy. Nuclear energy was the largest share, representing 39 percent, followed by oil (36 percent), natural gas (16 percent) and hydroelectricity (5 percent). France is the second-largest producer of nuclear power in the world, after the United States, however, nuclear energy is a much larger share of France’s total energy consumption than the United States (8 percent in 2004).


Oil's share of France's total energy consumption has declined by almost half since 1973. Overview

According to Oil and Gas Journal (OGJ), France had 122 million barrels of proven oil reserves in January 2007. The country produced 78,900 barrels per day (bbl/d) of oil in 2006, which includes 21,500 bbl/d of crude oil, 8,000 bbl/d of natural gas liquids, and 49,400 bbl/d of refinery gain.

In that same year, France consumed 1.97 million bbl/d. Due to the lack of domestic oil sources, the French government has encouraged the use of nuclear power as an alternative energy source to oil where possible, and the proportion of France's total energy consumption derived from oil has decreased from 71 percent in 1973 to 36 percent in 2004.

Exploration and Production

France's crude oil production peaked in the late 1980s at 67,000 bbl/d. The Paris and Aquitaine Basins contain the bulk of France's production capacity. The largest producer of crude oil in France is Vermilion, which controls some 25 percent of the sector. Vermilion also operates the single largest field in the country, Parentis, located near Biscarrosse in southwest France.

Despite its lack of domestic crude oil supplies, France is very active in international oil production. The French oil company Total SA is one of the world's largest oil-producing companies. Formed as TotalFinaElf in 2000 by the merger of French Total, Belgian Petrofina, and French Elf Aquitaine, Total is the fourth-largest publicly-traded oil producer in the world, with substantial operations in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.

Oil Imports

According to Eurostat, France imported 1.57 million bbl/d of crude oil in 2006. The largest source of these imports was Norway (256,000 bbl/d), followed by Russia (186,000 bbl/d) and Saudi Arabia (166,000 bbl/d). France also imported 760,000 bbl/d of refined petroleum products in 2006, while exporting 519,000 bbl/d; the largest source of product imports were Russia, while the largest destination for exports was the Netherlands.


According to OGJ, France's crude oil refining capacity in 2007 was 1.96 million bbl/d, the third-largest in Europe. The largest refinery in the country is Total's Gonfreville l'Orcher facility, with a capacity of 331,000 bbl/d. Total controls some 55 percent of France's refining capacity. Much of France’s refining capacity is concentrated in the Fos-Lavera area, the third-busiest petroleum port in the world. The majority of France's petroleum products consumption is for road transportation, followed by household consumption and air transportation.

Within the EU-25, prices for gasoline and diesel fuel in France are above-average, according to Eurostat. In 2006, premium gasoline prices (including all taxes) averaged 1.27 euros per liter ($4.60 per gallon) in France, versus an EU-25 average of 1.15 euros per liter ($4.16 per gallon). For comparison, gasoline prices averaged $2.77 per gallon in the United States in 2006. Diesel prices in France (including all taxes) averaged 1.09 euros per liter ($3.94 per gallon), versus 1.04 euros per liter ($3.76 per gallon) for the EU-25 average and $2.71 per gallon in the United States. In France, taxes represent 63 percent of the gasoline price and 55 percent of the diesel price, versus 14 percent and 17 cents, respectively, in the United States (tax rates in the United States vary by state, those


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