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Total Leaves Russian Petro Field

FILE: The logo of French oil and gas company TotalEnergies is pictured at an electric car charging station and petrol station at the financial and business district of La Defense in Courbevoie near Paris. Taken 6.22.2021
FILE: The logo of French oil and gas company TotalEnergies is pictured at an electric car charging station and petrol station at the financial and business district of La Defense in Courbevoie near Paris. Taken 6.22.2021

French energy firm Total Energies said Friday it was divesting its stake in a Russian gas field that was reported this week to be providing fuel that ends up in Russian fighter jets.

The company said that it had signed a deal on Friday with its local Russian partner Novatek to sell its 49 percent in the Termokarstovoye gas field "on economic terms enabling TotalEnergies to recover the outstanding amounts invested in the field."

It said the divestment had been agreed in July and submitted to Russian authorities in early August, with approval coming on August 25.

That was the day after an article appeared in French daily Le Monde reporting the alleged refining of natural gas condensates from Termokarstovoye into jet fuel for fighter-bombers involved in Russia's assault on Ukraine since February.

TotalEnergies -- formerly Total -- owns 49 percent of Terneftegaz, the company that extracts gas from the Termokarstovoye field.

The other 51 percent is held by Novatek, in which the French firm also holds a 19.4 percent stake.

Le Monde reported Wednesday that condensates from Termokarstovoye were being sent to a refinery that had provided 42,700 tonnes of fuel from February-July sent to airbases hosting Russian planes.

Citing data from financial information firm Refinitiv, it said the shipments could be tracked back to the by-products from Termokarstovoye.

TotalEnergies initially said it had no control over the sales of its Russian partner.

On Friday, it said Novatek had denied that its condensates were being refined into Russian military jet fuel.

Instead, they were sent to processing at a refinery whose products are exclusively exported outside Russia, a Novatek statement relayed by the French firm said.

TotalEnergies also said it was considering legal action in a bid to end an "unfounded controversy which is damaging the reputation of the company."

The French group is the only major Western energy group to continue its operations in Russia.

"We are grateful to (French President) Emmanuel Macron and the French people for supporting Ukraine. Against this background, it is a disgrace to France when French companies assist the murder of Ukrainians and the ruining of our cities," Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted Friday.

"TotalEnergies, pull out of Russia!"

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