TotalEnergies venture helped fuel Russian military, says Le Monde

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TotalEnergies is involved in supplying gas condensate to make jet fuel that may have been used by Russia’s military in Ukraine, via the French firm’s stake in a venture with Russia’s Novatek, Le Monde newspaper reported on Wednesday. The report, based on energy market data and compiled with help from activist group Global Witness, said the fuel was produced from gas condensate supplied by Terneftegaz, in which Totalenergies holds 49%.

Totalenergies, which unlike major Western rivals has held on to its assets in Russia despite criticism, said it did not operate infrastructure that would have supplied the Russian military but acknowledged its shareholding in Terneftegaz.

It said all the gas condensate produced by Terneftegaz was supplied to Novatek, in which TotalEnergies also holds 19.4%, adding: “TotalEnergies has no information on, or control over, Novatek’s independent sales to the Russian market.”

“Total has not denied that gas condensate from its joint venture is ultimately refined into jet fuel for the Russian Air Force”, Global Witness adviser Louis Wilson told Reuters. “Ignorance is no excuse.”

The French presidency declined to comment on the Le Monde report and TotalEnergies’ investments when contacted by Reuters. The government has previously said it was up to individual companies to determine which activities they wanted to maintain in Russia provided they complied with international sanctions.

Gas condensates used to create kerosene for the Russian air force are being extracted from a deposit operated by Russian company Terneftegaz – which is 49 percent owned by TotalEnergies. Planes fuelled by kerosene delivered by Terneftegaz were involved in the bombing of the besieged city of Mariupol in March.

“No, TotalEnergies does not produce kerosene for the Russian army. No, TotalEnergies is in no way associated with the supply of fuel to Russian military aviation in any form whatsoever,” a spokesperson for TotalEnergies said.

Despite the widespread condemnation, the group has said that keeping its holdings in Russia is the best way to enforce international sanctions because otherwise they would fall into the hands of oligarchs linked to the Kremlin.

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