27 July 2023, London – French energy giant TotalEnergies today announced €10.4 billion ($11.5 billion) in profits so far in 2023, and the company continues its trade buying Russian liquified gas. New Global Witness analysis of records from data firm Kpler shows Total is the biggest non-Russian buyer of liquified gas from the country.
Since the start of the year, Total has bought nearly 4.2 million cubic metres of Russian liquified natural gas (LNG). Including Russian companies, this makes the French fossil fuel firm the second largest buyer of Russian LNG so far this year, purchasing over 10 percent of the country’s shipments. Only Russia’s OAO Yamal – which Total part-owns – bought more.
LNG continues to be a key source of revenue for the Kremlin and its war in Ukraine, with 2023 sales to Total and others valued at over €5.8 billion. It is currently legal for European companies like Total to buy and import Russian LNG.
At the same time, Russian LNG is an important part of Total’s LNG supply. The company’s 2023 Russian purchases are down compared to last year, but still make up nearly 20 percent of all the LNG Total has bought. This year, Total has bought more LNG from Russia than any country other than the U.S.
Global Witness is renewing calls on the EU and its member states, including France, to ban imports of and trade in Russian LNG by companies based in their jurisdictions. Meanwhile, all profits and dividends received by these companies since the start of the war from Russian operations should be subject to a 100 percent tax.
Jonathan Noronha-Gant, Senior Campaigner at Global Witness, said:
“As Total celebrates massive profits, people in France, Ukraine, and across the world cannot forget that the company is still buying Russian gas, sending money to Russia’s war machine.
“There is no excuse for continuing to buy Russian gas, sending funds to an aggressor that has caused so much misery in Ukraine and threatened Europe’s security. Gas sales are no different to oil in that they provide critical funds to Russia’s war machine. After 18 months of conflict, the EU must stop allowing companies like Total from buying Russian gas.
“Countries like France, where Total is based, and the EU must act by cutting off the demand for Russian LNG whilst the people of Ukraine suffer an immeasurable toll.”
Calculations of Total’s LNG purchases were conducted by Global Witness, using records provided by the commodities trade data firm Kpler.
Responding to a request for comment, Total said it was not continuing to buy Russian LNG for commercial benefit. The company condemned Russia’s war in Ukraine, stated it was not providing capital for Russian projects, and that it was following EU sanctions. The company also said its Russian purchases were down this year that and all Russian gas spot trading was halted in 2022, but that the company needed to buy some LNG because it was locked into long-term contracts it had to pay for in any event. Should EU energy security policy change and Russian gas become sanctioned Total suggested its trade would be discontinued.
Note to Editors:
Underlying data and calculations available upon request.