TotalEnergies’ CEO justified the company’s unwillingness to entirely quit Russia on Saturday, but stated that the company would never do business with President Vladimir Putin again.
Patrick Pouyanne, chairman and CEO of TotalEnergies, told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble that writing off the company’s holdings in Russia would practically mean handing them over to Putin “for free.”
“What are we going to do with the assets we already have?” … I’m not ready to hand them up to Russian citizens or oligarchs for nothing… “Because, by the way, it would be in violation of the sanctions,” he remarked at the Doha Forum in Qatar on a CNBC-moderated panel.
“These assets exist; I will not give them to Mr. Putin for free.” Because that’s what leaving today entails.”
Like its peers Shell and BP, the French corporation has been chastised for refusing to write off its oil and gas assets in Russia, such as its shares in Russian gas companies Novatek and Yamal. Shell is said to be facing a $3 billion loss on its Russian holdings, while BP’s write-down might be in the $25 billion range.
Pouyanne, on the other hand, claimed that the term “written off” “means nothing” and is merely an accounting technique.
Pouyanne responded to rival energy corporations’ exit plans by saying, “They do what they want, I do what [we] want,” but adding that he had no idea how they planned to leave the nation without violating sanctions. “I’d like my coworkers to describe how they’re going to do it.”
Instead of withdrawing completely from Russia, TotalEnergies announced this week that it would no longer provide money for new projects in the country and would not renew its gasoil and crude supply contracts with the Russian government. “We are categorically opposed to and vehemently condemn Russia’s aggression against Ukraine,” Pouyanne said on the panel Saturday.
“We will not work with President Putin – please distinguish between Russia and Putin,” he urged.
TotalEnergies stated in a statement on Tuesday that “abandoning these interests without consideration would enrich Russian investors, in violation of the sanctions’ purpose,” and that the business was unable to find a non-Russian buyer for the assets due to sanctions and Russian laws.