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No impact from farmers' blockade on refinery operations - Total

13 June 2018

French farmers launched blockades of the country's 14 refineries and hundreds of Total S.A. fuel depots since Sunday evening to protest imports of low cost palm oil for manufacturing biofuel, a move they denounce as unfair competition that jeopardizes their livelihood.

The farmers' unions warned the three days action could be extended.

"I want Total and biofuel producers to reach an agreement on a base price and a contract that will benefit rapeseed producers", Travert said, adding there was no risk of a shortage of petrol due to the movement.

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.

Christiane Lambert, President of France's farmer's union group FNSEA, walks past tractors during a protest by French farmers to block the French oil giant Total refinery in Donges, France, June 11, 2018.

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. Environmentalists also blame palm oil cultivation for deforestation in southeast Asia.

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

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. Palm oil is cheaper than rapeseed oil.

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.

Junior ecology minister Sebastien Lecornu also confirmed France would propose a decision be taken at European Union level to cap and progressively cut palm oil imports, Lambert said.

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

No impact from farmers' blockade on refinery operations - Total