France to put freeze on palm oil use, imports

13 Juin, 2018, 17:30 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • French farmers block refineries fuel depots over palm oil imports

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".

On Sunday evening, French farmers launched blockades of the country's 14 refineries to protest imports of low cost palm oil for manufacturing biofuel.

A total of 13 sites were blocked from 9 a.m. Monday, Christiane Lambert, president of the FNSEA said in an interview with France Info television. "Do not rush into oil stations, it is often that which creates the shortage".

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.

Separately, junior minister Brune Poirson, who reports to environment minister Nicolas Hulot, said on Twitter that "France wants to stop the rise in use from one year to the other" for both palm oil and soybean oil.

Agriculture Minister Stephane Travert said Monday that the government would not back down, adding that he would meet soon with unions as well as biofuels producers to discuss supplies and pricing.

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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 of sympathy action by fuel sector workers.

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

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

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.

The issue of palm oil use has caused friction with Indonesia and Malaysia, the 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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