Published: Wed, June 13, 2018
Sci-tech | By Brandy Patterson

French farmers call for pursuit of fuel blockades

French farmers call for pursuit of fuel blockades

Farmers in France have blocked access to several oil depots and refineries in protest - that is organized to last three days - against the proposed use of imported palm oil at a Total biofuel plant.

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.

"We are only blocking Total's fuel trucks that want to get in or out".

"This blockade can not be the solution to the discussion that we are going to have". This blockade is illegal.

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The company stressed though that no more than 50 percent of raw material used at the facility would be imported palm oil, and that all suppliers were certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.

The minister called on angry protesters to join talks to find "adequate solutions". The farmers are strongly opposed to the importation of the product which, they say, will likely cut into the profits of locally produced rapeseed oil.

The French authorities last month gave oil and gas major Total permission to use palm oil as one of the feedstocks at its La Mede biofuel refinery, in southern France, infuriating farmers who grow local oilseed crops like rapeseed and environmentalists who blame palm oil cultivation for deforestation in southeast Asia.

According to Deutsche Welle, they are also anxious about emerging competition, as local biofuel producers might want to go over to a cheaper palm oil from overseas instead of buying locally produced and more expensive rapeseed oil.

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He also denied the possibility of reverting the authorization given to Total to import palm oil, although he agreed to receive the guild representatives tomorrow.

Palm oil has been widely criticised in Europe for environmental destruction and some politicians are pushing for a ban on its use in biofuel as part of new European Union energy targets.

The issue has caused friction with Indonesia and Malaysia, the world's two largest palm oil producers, with Malaysian officials warning of trade repercussions that could affect a potential deal to buy French fighter jets.

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