French energy giant Total 'funding Russia's war machine', claims NGO

11 months ago 40

"The EU must act by cutting off... Russian LNG whilst the people of Ukraine suffer an immeasurable toll," said a campaigner at Global Witness.

French energy giant Total is fuelling Russia's "war machine" by buying massive amounts of Russian energy, an NGO has claimed. 

Global Witness said the company continues to buy Russian liquified natural gas (LGN), with their analysis suggesting it is the biggest non-Russian buyer. 

On Thursday, TotalEnergies announced €10.4 billion in profits so far in 2023, amid surging energy prices due to the Ukraine war. 

"As Total celebrates massive profits, people in France, Ukraine, and across the world cannot forget that the company is still buying Russian gas, sending money to Russia’s war machine," said Jonathan Noronha-Gant, Senior Campaigner at Global Witness. 

“There is no excuse for continuing to buy Russian gas, sending funds to an aggressor that has caused so much misery in Ukraine and threatened Europe’s security." 

Total has defended its actions. In response to the NGO's allegations, the company said it was complying with EU sanctions and condemned Russia's war in Ukraine. 

It also noted that Russian purchases had fallen this year. 

Global Witness claimed the French energy giant purchased over 10% of Russia's shipments of LGN, buying up nearly 4.2 million cubic metres of the fuel. 

The monitoring organisation pointed to a long-term contract allowing Total to reap huge profits by exploiting a large gas field in Siberia. 

Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022, the EU has placed sanctions on oil and coal imports from Russia over the sea.

The bloc has drastically cut reliance on Russian pipeline gas, despite not imposing sanctions on the fuel. 

EU countries have increased their overall purchases of Russian LNG, undermining the bloc's pledge to end its use of Russian fossil fuels by 2027.

LNG continues to be a key source of revenue for the Kremlin and its war in Ukraine, with 2023 sales to Total and others valued at over €5.8 billion, according to Global Witness.

"Gas sales are no different to oil in that they provide critical funds to Russia’s war machine," said Noronha-Gant from the NGO. 

Global Witness renewed calls for the EU to ban trade in Russian LNG and a 100% tax on profits received by these companies since the start of the invasion. 

"After 18 months of conflict, the EU must stop allowing companies like Total from buying Russian gas."

“Countries like France, where Total is based, and the EU must act by cutting off... Russian LNG whilst the people of Ukraine suffer an immeasurable toll.”

Responding to Global Witness's claims, Total said it would discontinue trade should EU security policy change and Russian gas become sanctioned. 

The appetite to address the issue is mounting within the 27-member European Union, but there is no agreement on how as the risks of inflating energy prices and inadvertently boosting Russian energy revenues further are considerable.

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