French farmers block refineries, fuel depots over imports for biofuel plant
French farmers have blocked access to oil depots and refineries with tonnes of onions, wood and rubble, as part of a three-day protest over plans to allow Total to use imported palm oil at a biofuel plant.
Farmers are concerned about the impact on locally produced oilseed crops, further souring relations between the EU’s biggest agricultural sector and the government of President Emmanuel Macron.
Many welcomed Macron’s call for fairer prices for farmers as part of a food chain review last year, but they have been angered by the government’s attempt to phase out weedkiller glyphosate before other EU countries.
Farm Minister Stephane Travert said this week the farmers’ blockades were illegal and the government would not rescind the decision to allow Total to use imported palm oil.
A total of 16 sites were blocked on Monday afternoon, France’s largest farm union FNSEA (National Federation of Agricultural Holders’ Unions) said on Twitter.
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 oil and gas producer operates five refineries and nine petrol depots in France. It said on Monday morning the blockade by farmers had not had an impact on operations.
It urged clients not to rush to petrol stations to fill their tanks, which could spark panic buying and shortages.