Published: Wed, June 13, 2018
Science | By Michele Flores

Total says no impact from farmers blockade on refinery operations

Total says no impact from farmers blockade on refinery operations

Farmers are protesting government decisions such as authorizing the company of the energy sector Total to import palm oil from Asia to exploit a bio-refinery, which they consider an unfair competition with the French biodiesel industry.

The protests are a sign of growing anger in France's farming communities which have so far not mobilised in large numbers against the government of President Emmanuel Macron since his election.

Lambert said the blockades were meant to pressure the French government over recent trade agreements that would allow imports of meat, sugar, and ethanol from countries "that do not respect the same conditions of production as French products".

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.

The oil and gas producer operates five refineries and nine petrol depots in France.

It urged clients not to rush to petrol stations to fill their tanks, which could spark panic buying and shortages.

No impact from farmers' blockade on refinery operations - Total
French farmers start refinery blockade over palm oil imports

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.

Organisers say the farmers' blockades are aimed at pressuring the government into curbing palm oil use at La Mede and to address other grievances such as imports of South American meat.

Total's initiative to import palm oil for its biofuel plant was just "the last straw", the representative added.

Fuel shortages were not expected as a result of the blockade, given France's network of emergency fuel reserves and in the absence to date of sympathy action by fuel sector workers.

Total argues its plans call for using less palm oil than allowed by the authorities, offer an outlet for local rapeseed and will develop large-scale recycling of used oil and fat.

"We will commit at European Union level to cap, to freeze. based on the total 2017 volumes, the volume of imported (palm) oil to reduce it gradually in the coming years", French junior ecology minister Sebastien Lecornu said on Europe 1 radio.

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