French Transport Minister Clément Beaune on Thursday called for an investigation on whether gas exploited by oil giant TotalEnergies has been used to fuel fighter jets used by the Russian army in Ukraine.
Beaune’s call follows a report from Le Monde with the NGO Global Witness which links the French firm’s remaining activities in Russia with refueling operations in military bases in southwestern Russia.
Terneftegaz, a joint venture between TotalEnergies and Russian firm Novatek — which owns 51 percent of it — exploits the Siberian gas field of Termokarstovoye. TotalEnergies also owns 19.4 percent of Novatek itself.
According to Le Monde, some of the gas condensate extracted from the field has been transformed into kerosene sent to two military bases close to the Ukrainian border. Fighter jets at these bases have likely been involved in bombings in Ukraine, although it is hard to pinpoint exactly which strikes.
“This is an extremely serious matter,” Beaune told France 2, “so there needs to be a check on whether, willingly or not, there’s been a bypass on sanctions or a diversion of the energy that a company, French or not, would produce.” He did not specify who would be in charge of such an investigation. Beaune added he has no information on the issue at this stage.
“TotalEnergies does not operate Terneftegaz’s plants, which are managed by Novatek staff,” a statement from the firm to Le Monde reads. The company added it “is not part of Novatek’s decision on how to monetize gas condensates.”