Published: Wed, June 13, 2018
Sci-tech | By April Francis

France seeks freeze on palm oil use, imports

France seeks freeze on palm oil use, imports

"It is not by blocking refineries that we are going to find adequate solutions", Travert told RTL Radio.

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

Farmers will start blockading French refineries and fuel depots of Total SA on Sunday, to protest the company's decision to import palm oil for a biofuel refinery, Christiane Lambert, president of farmers' union FNSEA, said in an interview on Franceinfo television.

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. "Do not rush into oil stations, it is often that which creates the shortage".

Negotiations between the FNSEA union that called the protest and French Agriculture Minister Stephane Travert to resolve the latest dispute progressed on Wednesday after he sent the union a draft letter in the morning responding to some of their demands.

Palm oil is cheaper than rapeseed oil as a feedstock for biodiesel and French farmers say its growing use has added to their longstanding competitive disadvantage because of high taxes and strict environmental regulations in France.

"Our target is the state", Lambert said, adding that Total's decision on palm oil was "the last straw".

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.

While the European Parliament has chose to ban palm oil imports by 2021, France recently gave the go-ahead for a biorefinery owned by Total, a move that prompted many critics.

Small farmers in Malaysia, the world's second largest palm oil producer after Indonesia, said a move to cap palm oil exports at an European Union level would be discriminatory and a "betrayal".

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