French farmers start refinery blockade over palm oil imports

Could protesting French farmers cause fuel shortages in France

French Farmers Plan to Blockade Total Refineries and Fuel Depots

France's main farm union called early on Wednesday for protestors to continue a blockade of refineries and fuel depots after the government failed to ease their concerns.

The French farmers' blockades at oil refineries to oppose the government approval of Total's use of imported palm oil at a biofuel plant was "illegal", said Agriculture Minister Stephane Travert.

Reuters quoted France's Total as saying that personnel from the oil and gas company had access to four refineries in France and a blockade of the sites by farmers had not had an impact on operations.

French farmers have reportedly blocked oil depots and refineries as part of a three-day protest campaign against palm oil imports, Reuters reported.

It urged clients not to rush to petrol stations to fill their tanks, which could spark panic buying and shortages. He said that the government is not going to backtrack on its decision to allow Total to use imported palm oil, and warned that the protest could not lead to any "adequate solutions".

Total's decision was "the last straw", she said in an interview with Franceinfo television.

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It personally didn't affect me much but obviously I have people close to me that are affected by this more than me. I always said that it was a lie and yet people continued saying that I should not go to the national team.

The move is aimed at reducing the use of palm oil blamed for causing deforestation in southeast Asia, he said.

The number of French farms decreased by 7 percent a year ago and their bankruptcies rose by the proportion in France as a whole despite economy growth, according to the national statistical institute INSEE.

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.

Palm oil is cheaper than rapeseed oil as a feedstock for biodiesel.

French rapeseed and sunflower growers, who say they will lose out due to Total's imports, accuse foreign palm oil producers of failing to respect the regulatory requirements European producers must follow.

Indonesia and Malaysia are the two largest producers of palm oil.

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