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Greenpeace France and the local chapter of Friends of the Earth have threatened TotalEnergies with a lawsuit if the supermajor does not pull out from Russia, Reuters has reported, citing a letter by the two non-governmental organizations to TotalEnergies' chief executive.
The organizations said in their letter that under French criminal law, corporate executives could be held responsible for their companies' involvement with countries participating in armed conflict, which, according to the two, can constitute complicity in war crimes and crimes against humanity.
"We hereby formally request that you ... put an end without delay to your activities connected with the Russian oil and gas market in order to cease any business relationships that may contribute to the commission of serious violations of human rights," Greenpeace France and Friends of the Earth France wrote.
Two weeks ago, the French supermajor said it would suspend any new investment in Russian energy, but would not exit the country. TotalEnergies has a 19.4-percent stake in Novatek, the country's largest private producer of liquefied natural gas. As of 2020, its Russian assets accounted for 24 percent of TotalEnergies' proven reserves and 17 percent of its oil and gas production, according to Reuters.
"TotalEnergies supports the scope and strength of the sanctions put in place by Europe and will implement them regardless of the consequences (currently being assessed) on its activities in Russia," the company said in late February.
Before Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth began to exert pressure, an activist shareholder did the same. Clearway Capital last week called on the French company to pull out of Russia, threatening it with a shareholder vote if it refuses to do so.
"We believe there to be a groundswell of support among the company's shareholder base for decisive action from TotalEnergies," the founder of Clearway Capital, Gianluca Ferrari, told Reuters.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.