TotalEnergies co-owned venture helped fuel Russian military, says Le Monde

TotalEnergies (TTEF.PA) 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 (NVTK.MM), Le Monde newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Wednesday’s Le Monde 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.”

“Le Monde was able to trace the supply chain from the Termokarstovoye gas field in Siberia to two military air bases (Morozovskaya and Malchevo), each of which houses a squadron of multirole fighter aircraft,” the newspaper reported.

Amnesty International and other rights groups have said air strikes against civilians, including the devastated Ukrainian city of Mariupol, were likely carried out with warplanes from bases in the region, including Morozovskaya and Malchevo.

“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 campaign group said between February and July enough jet fuel to fill the internal tanks of a Su-34 bomber several thousand times had been shipped to the bases from a refinery in Omsk, where gas condensate from a Novatek facility made up around 8% of the feedstock.

TotalEnergies has faced criticism in the West for not following the lead of other energy majors such as Shell and BP, which have said they would divest their Russian assets.

Chief Executive Patrick Pouyanne’s stance, which has so far essentially only led to a freeze on future investment in Russia, is a drag for French President Emmanuel Macron who has made numerous but mostly fruitless diplomatic advances to bring about peace in Ukraine.

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.

TotalEnergies has a range of multibillion-euro investments in Russia, including stakes in the Yamal LNG and Arctic LNG 2 projects, the latter of which is not yet operational. The projects are part of the firm’s strategy to produce liquefied natural gas (LNG).