Russia Monitor is a review of the most important events related to Russian internal and external security, as well as its foreign policies.
Date: 31 August 2022 Author: Grzegorz Kuczyński
France’s TotalEnergies And Its Activities In Russia
Western businesses quit Russia––some do it quickly while others just pretend to withdraw from the country. A fierce controversy recently broke out over France’s TotalEnergies and its activities on Russia, soil, according to French daily Le Monde.
France’s energy giant TotalEnergies, unlike many French rivals, has held on to its assets in Russia. Selling a stake in the joint venture Terneftegaz that extracts gas from the Termokarstvoye field does not mean the company’s withdrawal from Russia. On August 24, Le Monde revealed, based on an investigation by the NGO Global Witness and the financial database Refinitiv, that this field is producing gas condensate sent to a processing plant, which then supplies a refinery selling kerosene to the Russian air force that targeted civilians in Ukraine, particularly during the bombing of the Mariupol theater on March 16 where hundreds were killed. TotalEnergies has denied reports that it supplied gas condensate to make jet fuel for Russian warplanes in Ukraine, adding it did not own the refinery that produced jet fuel. On August 26, the French energy firm said they (TotalEnergies and Novatek) do jointly produce gas condensate in Russia that ends up in jet fuel, but it is all for export. It added it had reached an agreement with its Russian partner Novatek to sell its 49 percent stake in their joint venture Terneftegaz before Le Monde published the article. TotalEnergies said earlier that it had sent Russian authorities a request to approve the deal on August 8 and that it got the go ahead on August 25. The transaction was allegedly made on July 18 while its closing is expected in September 2022. On August 3, the French energy giant closed a deal to sell a 20 percent stake in the Kharyaga oil field to Russian oil producer Zarubezhneft. Norway’s Equinor sold a 30 percent stake in the project––the move gives Zarubezhneft 90 percent of the project’s shares while the remaining 10 percent share is held by the local Nenets Oil Company. TotalEnergies is also seeking to sell its lubricants facility in the Kaluga region. The company will also continue to sell liquefied natural gas from the Yamal LNG project. Novatek’s management committee recommended on August 25 to pay €2.27 billion in dividends to its shareholders thanks to the profits recorded in the first half of 2022, which would represent a gain of €440 million for the French company that has no intention of giving it up. Novatek is Russia’s largest private natural gas company. It has long been favored by the Kremlin while Putin’s ally Gennady Timchenko has played a key role in developing the company. The oil tycoon has reduced his business activity amid Western sanctions.
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