Science

French farmers to stage refinery blockade to protest palm oil imports

French farmers to stage refinery blockade to protest palm oil imports”

Christiane Lambert, President of France's farmer's union group FNSEA, talks to journalists as she stands on a tractor during a protest by French farmers to block the French oil giant Total refinery in Donges, France, June 11, 2018.

Total committed to use less than 300,000 tonnes of crude palm oil per year at its La Mede biofuel refinery out of a total processing capacity of 650,000 tonnes, and to use 50,000 tonnes of locally grown rapeseed.

France's farm minister said on Monday that a decision by farmers to launch a blockade of oil refineries and fuel depots to protest a government decision to allow Total to use imported palm oil at a biofuel plant was illegal.

The blockade has further worsened relations between the biggest agricultural sector of any European Union country and the government of President Emmanuel Macron.

Stephane Travert said the government will not back down on its decision to allow Total to use imported palm oil.

No impact from farmers' blockade on refinery operations - Total

Total's 253,000 barrels-per-day (bpd) Gonfreville refinery and nearby oil depot, its 109,000 bpd Feyzin refinery, the 220,000 barrels-per-day (bpd) Donges refinery and 102,000 bpd Grandpuits refinery were among those blocked by farmers.

The firm, which operates five of France's seven refineries, nine depots, and 2,200 petrol stations, said the depots and four refineries were still blocked.

Palm oil is cheaper than rapeseed oil as a feedstock for biodiesel. "It concerns South American meat and Spanish wine as well as palm oil", said Damien Greffon, who leads the FRSEA farmers' union in the Paris region.

Hulot had said a year ago France would take steps to restrict the use of palm oil in producing biofuels in order to reduce deforestation in the countries of origin, without detailing the measures.

Fuel shortages were not expected as a result of the blockade, given France's network of emergency fuel reserves and in the absence of sympathy action by fuel sector workers. French farmers say its growing use has added to their competitive disadvantage because of high taxes and strict environmental regulations in France.



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