By Dimitri Delmond and Joshua Kirby 
 

French finance minister Bruno Le Maire said Tuesday that he will speak to the leaders of energy companies TotalEnergies SE and Engie SA about their links with Russia, after their energy-major peers withdrew from their interests in the country.

Speaking on TV channel France Inter, Mr. Le Maire said it is problematic to work with any figure in politics or the economy who is close to the Russian leadership, after the nation launched an invasion of neighboring Ukraine. He added that he would discuss the matter with TotalEnergies's president and CEO Patrick Pouyanne and Engie CEO Catherine MacGregor.

Following the comments, TotalEnergies said it would invest no capital in new projects in Russia, and that it backed the scope and strength of sanctions put in place by the European Union.

"TotalEnergies will implement [the sanctions] regardless of the consequences, (currently being assessed,) on its activities in Russia," the company said.

TotalEnergies holds a stake of close to 20% in Russian gas firm Novatek, and the country accounted for around 16.6% of the company's total hydrocarbon output in 2020, according to its most recent filings.

Mr. Le Maire said he was certain that Mr. Pouyanne was aware of the seriousness of the situation and that the group would make a decision in the coming days.

As for Engie, the company helped finance the now-halted Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline linking Russia to Germany.

The minister's comments come after several European companies withdrew from their interests in Russia. British oil company BP PLC said Sunday that it would divest its nearly 20% stake in Russian state oil company Rosneft, valued around $14 billion, amid pressure from the United Kingdom government.

Shell PLC subsequently said it would withdraw from joint ventures in Russia and quit its own financing of Nord Stream 2. Norway's Equinor ASA also said it would it exit its Russian investments.

Engie declined to comment when contacted by Agefi-Dow Jones.

 

This story was translated in whole or in part from a French-language version initially published by L'Agefi-Dow Jones.

 

Write to Dimitri Delmond at ddelmond@agefi.fr and to Joshua Kirby at joshua.kirby@wsj.com; @joshualeokirby

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

March 01, 2022 05:17 ET (10:17 GMT)

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