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French Total Lays Off 70 percent Of Its Russian Workforce

The Russian edition of Forbes Magazine is reporting that French Oil giant Total has laid off 70 percent of its Russian workforce through its office in Moscow.

The dismissed staff members are said to have two months’ salary in compensation. Russian media reports indicate that 200 out of 600 employees were laid off, and the balance were transferred to the state owned oil company Zarubezhneft.

Earlier in August, the company transferred 20 percent of its Kharyaga oilfield production-sharing agreement and operator’s functions to Zarubezhneft. As far as the reason behind the transfer, Total CEO Patrick Pouyanne stated: “Amid low crude prices we need optimize our assets as well as put a priority on spending management.” Pouyanne said that an experienced Russian company would be able to establish working relationships with contractors in the area.

Among the reported reasons for the move by Total was a withdrawal from the Kharyaga project and sanctions from the west that would prohibit Total from delivering equipment to the project.

The Russian edition of Forbes, citing an unnamed employee, said that Total had planned to attract technology from America and Europe to the project, but that sanctions blocked the plans. Total had been the biggest foreign investor in Russian oil prior to selling its stake in the Kharyaga project. The project itself aims to develop a pair of oilfields in the Nenets Autonomous region, which produced 1.5 million tons of crude in 2014.

In related news, while Total is in the process of pulling out of the Kharyaga project, Russian oil company Rosneft said last week that its overall hydrocarbon production for the second quarter of 2016 was up due to that country’s drilling boom. Oil production for the second quarter was at 4.1 million barrels per day, which is 0.5 increase from the prior period.

Lincoln Brown for Oilprice.com

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