Saturday, 10 May 2008

Neste filling station closed by anti-palm oil demonstration

Neste filling station closed by anti-palm oil demonstration

Police detain Greenpeace activists dressed as orangutansGreenpeace demonstrators dressed as orangutans converged on the Neste Oilfilling station in the Eläintarha district of Helsinki on Wednesdaymorning, protesting the use of tropical palm oil in Neste's new dieselfuel.

At about ten in the morning, the simian-clad protesters placed lockson the nozzles of the fuel pumps at the Neste station dispensing thenew Green-diesel fuel, putting them temporarily out of service. Theyalso distributed leaflets to customers arriving at the station.

Greenpeace claims that the biofuel is not as green an option as itis claimed to be, as its widespread use encourages the clearing ofrain forests in Indonesia and Malaysia.

"We launched the protest because Neste has not given up on the use of palmoil in the production of its Green-diesel, in spite of demands", said Greenpeace representative Sini Saarela.

The protest lasted about an hour. The police first cordoned off thearea, broke the locks that had been placed on the fuel nozzles, anddetained 11 demonstrators.

Four people were still detained at 6:00 PM. Police say that therewas no intention of placing anyone under arrest.

Neste Oil says that it will issue a criminal complaint and demand compensation for lost sales revenues over the protest. Neste Oil introduced its new Green-diesel at all of its filling stations in the Helsinki region with staff. The new fuel contains at least ten percent of Neste's own NExBTL fuel, produced from renewable raw materials according to a process developed by Neste Oil.

The main raw material for NExBTL is Malaysian palm oil. Greenpeace opposes the use of palm oil as a raw material for fuel, because the increase in demand for palm oil will encourage the establishment of oil palm plantations in land reclaimed from rainforests.

The clearing of rain forests releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, accelerating climate change.

"People think that they are doing the right thing by buying dieselmade out of palm oil, although the opposite is true", Saarela said. She also said that Greenpeace has proof that Neste's subcontractor,the IOI Group, is cutting down rainforests on the island of Borneo,and destroying the habitat of the endangered orangutans.

Neste Oil rejects Greenpeace's accusations. Simo Honkanen, Neste's director responsible for NExBTL, says that when correctly produced, palmoil is an excellent raw material for diesel fuel.

"When we consider the life cycle of the raw material and the production of the final product, palm oil causes the least carbondioxide emissions of all biologically-based raw materials", Honkanen says. "We take responsibility for using raw material that is produced according to the principles of sustainable development." Honkanen did not want to comment on the activities of IOI inKalimantan, the Indonesian part of the island of Borneo.

The IOI Group is the world's second-largest listed company producing palmoil. In a press release issued by Neste Oil, a representative of IOI said the company has committed to palm oil production which follows the standards of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

The IOI representative did not give any detailed comments on Greenpeace's claims that rain forests were being cleared from landi n Indonesia owned by a company in which IOI is a partial owner.

Previously in HS International Edition: Neste Oil believes certification will remove obstacles to use of palm oil in bio-diesel production (10.12.2007) Greenpeace: Neste palm oil-based biodiesel not so green (31.10.2007) Partners of Finnish companies accused of felling rain forests inIndonesia (7.5.2008) The two faces of tropical palm oil (3.2.2008)Links: Greenpeace International - Palm oil blockade 15. November 2007 Palm Oil Truth Foundation: Greenpeace: A Hired Economic Hitman? Neste Oil: Neste Oil launches unique renewable diesel commercially inFinland Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).