May 18, 2022

Charlie Doodle

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Activists spray paint TotalEnergies’ HQ west of Paris over Russia ties

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A sign with the logo of French oil and gas company TotalEnergies is pictured at a petrol station in Reze, near Nantes, France, January 21, 2022. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

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PARIS, March 21 (Reuters) – Pressure mounted on Totalenergies (TTEF.PA) over its ties to Russia as activists spray-painted its headquarters west of Paris on Monday and France’s green presidential candidate accused the company and its boss of complicity with the Kremlin.

TotalEnergies, one of the world’s top oil producers and the fourth-largest company in France’s CAC 40 bluechip index (.FCHI) by market capitalization, has become increasingly isolated among oil majors as it holds on to its interests in Russia despite the latter’s invasion of Ukraine.

Environmental activists, led by the French group “Les amis de la terre” (Friends of the Earth), said they had sprayed black painton the glass doors at the entrance of TotalEnergie’s building in the La Defense business district,posting a video of around a dozen activists dressed in yellow vests.

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“At every minute, fossil fuels are arming the regime of the Kremlin and are the reason for people dying every day since almost a month”, a woman could be heard shouting.

TotalEnergies declined to comment on the Monday incident.

The company last month condemned what it called Moscow’s military aggression in Ukraine, but stopped short of joining rivals Shell (SHEL.L), BP and Exxon Mobil (XOM.N) in announcing an exit from its interests in resource-rich Russia.

Reposting the activists’ video, France’s green presidential candidate, Yannick Jadot, further criticised the company.

“Yes, Total must leave Russia and stop funding Putin’s war”, said Jadot in a tweet. “Your complicity costs lives”, he said, tagging the Twitter accounts of TotalEnergies and Chief Executive Patrick Pouyanne.

In response to Jadot’s tweet, the oil company’s press team called the accusations of complicity “unfounded”, saying that this would imply providing “direct aid” to the Russian state.

“TotalEnergies does not operate any oil or gas field in Russia”, the company said.

TotalEnergies holds a 19.4% stake in Novatek (NVTK.MM), Russia’s largest producer of liquefied natural gas. It also has a 20% stake in the Yamal LNG project, and a 10% interest in Arctic LNG 2, scheduled to start production next year.

Russia constituted 24% of TotalEnergies’ proven reserves and 17% of its oil and gas production in 2020.

A senior French finance ministry official had told Reuters earlier this month: “It’s up to the company to determine the balance of risk.” read more

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Reporting by Tassilo Hummel and Benjamin Mallet, Editing by Bernadette Baum

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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