TotalEnergies to halt all Russian oil purchases by year-end

PARIS (AP) — French energy giant TotalEnergies said Tuesday it has decided to halt all its purchases of Russian oil and petroleum products by the end of the year at the latest.

The French company said in a statement that it will “gradually suspend its activities in Russia” amid the worsening situation in Ukraine.

It stressed “the existence of alternative sources for supplying Europe” with oil.

TotalEnergies’ announcement comes almost a month after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 — in contrast with other oil giants like ExxonMobil, BP and Shell whose exits were more rapid and dramatic.

TotalEnergies committed to ensure “strict compliance with current and future European sanctions, no matter what the consequences on the management of its assets in Russia.”

Russia represented 17% of the company’s oil and gas production in 2020.

TotalEnergies holds a 19.4% stake in Russia’s natural gas producer Novatek.

It also has a 20% stake in the Yamal LNG project in northern Russia. The group said it continues to supply Europe with liquefied natural gas from the Yamal LNG plant “as long as Europe’s governments consider that Russian gas is necessary.”

“Contrary to oil, it is apparent that Europe’s gas logistics capacities make it difficult to refrain from importing Russian gas in the next two to three years without impacting the continent’s energy supply,” the statement said.

TotalEnergies has also decided to put on hold its business developments for batteries and lubricants in Russia. It will provide no further capital for the development of projects in Russia, the statement said.

The group said it will terminate its Russian oil supplies to the Leuna refinery in eastern Germany by the end of the year, and import oil via Poland instead.

TotalEnergies will also terminate its Russian fuel oil purchase contracts by the end of the year. Europe imported about 12% of fuel oil from Russia last year.

The group said it will import petroleum products from other continents, notably its share of fuel oil produced by the Satorp refinery in Saudi Arabia.

Energy firm BP said last month it would abandon its $14 billion stake in Russian state-owned oil and gas company Rosneft. The next day, Shell said it was leaving its joint venture with state-owned Gazprom and its involvement in the now-suspended Nord Stream 2 pipeline built to carry natural gas to Western Europe.

American giant ExxonMobil said it will pull out of a key oil and gas project and halt any new investment in Russia. Smaller energy firms have followed suit.

On March 9, U.S. President Joe Biden ordered a ban on Russian oil imports as part of sanctions against Russia.

The European Union was not able to make a similar decision, because of its heavy reliance on Russia for natural gas and oil. The 27-nation bloc struggled to find the right mix of sanctions to punish the Kremlin for invading Ukraine.

Officials said Tuesday the EU is moving toward the joint purchase of natural gas and ensuring its storage facilities are nearly full, to try to avoid another crisis tied to its dependency on Russian energy.

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