TotalEnergies CEO Patrick Pouyanné has stood up, once more, for the company’s values – but defended the purchases of Russian LNG.
“TotalEnergies will continue to ensure the supply of LNG from Russia to Europe because we are bound by long-term contracts,” the executive said.
“As of today, the European Union has no alternative but to maintain its supply of Russian gas. Given the logistical constraints of the European gas system, there simply exist no alternatives: cutting off Russian gas would seriously disrupt Europe’s economic activity by winter 2023.”
The French company has decided to suspend purchases of oil and products from Russia as soon as possible. Pouyanné, in comments on Linkedin, said this would be no later than the end of this year, when the last contract expires.
This step, he said, goes further than required by European sanctions. Total will secure supplies for European demand from other sources. The company has previously mentioned Saudi Arabia’s Satorp facility as a gasoil replacement.
Total, Pouyanné said, was taking care to come to the right decisions, “rather than with loud statements and insults. I will never accept comments that cast doubt on our corporate values or on the daily efforts of our 100,000 employees worldwide.”
The executive, speaking in Qatar on the weekend, defended Total’s decision not to simply write off its Russian assets. “These assets are there, I will not give them for free to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin. Because this is what it means, leaving today,” Pouyanné said at the Doha Forum.
A French presidential candidate, Yannick Jadot, criticised Total recently, describing the company as an “accomplice of Putin”. The company “totally discredits France”, the environmentalist politician said. AFP has reported that Total is considering legal action against Jadot for his comments.
The issue is clearly divisive in France. Another presidential candidate, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, has opposed the idea of restricting Russian energy flows. Mélenchon drew an equivalence between reliance on Russian gas and US LNG, saying France should have energy independence.
The first round of France’s presidential elections is due to take place on April 10.