Total Energies denies: Russian fighter jets refueled?

The French energy giant Total Energies has to defend itself against serious allegations.

Total Energies denies: Russian fighter jets refueled?

The French energy giant Total Energies has to defend itself against serious allegations. A subsidiary supplied fuel for Russian fighter bombers, reports "Le Monde". The group says it does not produce kerosene for the Russian army and is threatening legal action.

A partly French-owned gas field in Russia is reportedly being used to produce fuel for Russian warplanes deployed in Ukraine. As reported by the French newspaper "Le Monde", the French energy company Total Energies owns significant shares in the company Terneftgaz, which works in the Termokarstovoye field in Siberia. The group stated that it does not produce kerosene for the Russian army.

It traced the supply chain from Termokarstovoye to two airbases, each with a squadron of multirole fighter jets, the newspaper reported. These squadrons are accused of attacks on the civilian population in Ukraine, such as the bombing of the theater in the port city of Mariupol, it said. The human rights organization Amnesty International had described the airstrike as a war crime.

The Termokarstovoye field is operated by Terneftgaz, according to data from the non-governmental organization (NGO) Global Witness, which "Le Monde" refers to in its report. According to the company's 2021 annual report, Total Energies (formerly Total) owns 49 percent of Terneftegaz. The other 51 percent belong to the Russian company Nowatek, in which Total Energies also holds a 19.4 percent stake. According to "Le Monde" research, gas condensate was delivered by rail from Termokarstvoye to a refinery near the Siberian city of Omsk, where fuel was made from it. This was used to supply Russian aircraft until at least July.

Since February 2022, "hundreds of fuel deliveries" have been made from the refinery in Omsk to air force bases near the Ukrainian border via several stations, according to "Le Monde" using figures from the financial data service provider Refinitiv. Such deliveries were last made in 2017. In total, it is about 42,700 tons of aviation kerosene for the bases in Morosovsk and Voronezh, enough for 3,400 tank fillings for Sukhoi Su-34 fighter jets.

When asked by the daily, Total Energies explained that it does not operate the affected gas field itself and plays no role in the decisions on how the product will be used. Nowatek, in which Total Energies holds shares, is an "independent private company". Total Energies has no information about the sales by Nowatek - nor does it control these sales. However, the group admitted that its stake in Terneftegaz gives it a say in some decisions. However, Nowatek is responsible for the operation of the facilities owned by Terneftgaz. Total Energies has also not received any dividends since February 2022.

"No, TotalEnergies does not produce kerosene for the Russian army," Total Energies said on Twitter after the report was published. The company rejects "all unfounded allegations" in the article. This contains "mistakes, abbreviations and untruths". Total Energies also threatened legal action. The company will respond to the article "point by point" and reserves the right to "take appropriate legal action to protect its interests and reputation." Louis Goddard, data researcher at NGO Global Witness, said Total Energies' claim that its production had nothing to do with Russian military operations was "unfounded". Total Energies must "play with open cards".

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Total Energies announced that it would no longer invest in new projects in Russia. In contrast to many other international energy groups, the company remains active in the country, particularly in connection with liquefied gas produced by the international joint venture Yamal LNG.

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