Farmers block oil refineries and depots across France

Farmers block oil refineries and depots across France

Farmers block oil refineries and depots across France

The strikes have led to a further worsening of relations between the country's agricultural sector and President Emmanuel Macron's government.

Total argues its plans call for using less palm oil than allowed by the authorities, offer an outlet for 50,000 tonnes of locally produced rapeseed and will develop large-scale recycling of used oil and fat.

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.

French oil and gas major Total TOTF.PA said on Tuesday that 3.5 percent of its petrol stations in France were out of fuel on the second-day of a blockade of refineries and fuel depots by farmers that has disrupted distribution.

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.

The minister called on angry protesters to join talks to find "adequate solutions".

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.

Last month, authorities gave Total permission to use palm oil as a feedstock.

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

Southeast Asia is a leading producer of palm oil.

The number of French farms decreased by 7 percent previous year and their bankruptcies rose by the proportion in France as a whole despite economy growth, according to the national statistical institute INSEE. Some European lawmakers are pushing for a ban on palm oil use in biofuel, citing its effect on the environment.

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