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Oil Major Total Evacuates Staff From Venezuela After U.S. Sanctions

France’s oil and gas major Total has pulled out all its personnel from Venezuela following the U.S. sanctions on Venezuelan state oil firm PDVSA, which also blocked Total’s accounts in the Latin American country, CEO Patrick Pouyanné said on Thursday.

Total’s accounts have been blocked due to U.S. decisions, AFP quoted Pouyanné as saying at the presentation of the group’s 2018 financials.

“The other practical problem is that, given the sanctions, we should no longer manage Venezuela from the United States... but from Europe,” the manager said, noting that Total of course will be complying with the U.S. sanctions and has put its Venezuelan operations in a “hibernation mode.”

As of 2017, Total had around 50 employees in Venezuela, according to the group’s website. The French group first began exploration in Venezuela back in 1980, and has been active in the exploration and production of extra-heavy crude oil and natural gas in the Latin American country.

However, after the U.S. imposed sweeping sanctions on PDVSA at the beginning of last week, Total has frozen operations.

“We decided to evacuate all of our personnel from Venezuela given what has happened... since last Monday,” AFP quoted Pouyanné as saying on Thursday.

Related: BP Beats Estimates, Posts Highest Profit In Five Years

Venezuelan operations are not crucial for Total and they won’t have a significant impact on the supermajor’s production, given the fact that Venezuela accounts for just 50,000 bpd of Total’s 3 million bpd production, according to Pouyanné.

Earlier on Thursday, Total said that its 2018 oil and gas production hit a record high, growing by more than 8 percent from 2017 to reach 2.8 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd), thanks to the start-ups of Ichthys LNG in Australia, Yamal LNG in Russia, and deepwater projects Kaombo North in Angola and Egina in Nigeria. Total expects its production to grow by more than 9 percent in 2019, thanks to the ramp-ups of Kaombo North, Egina, and Ichthys, as well as the start-ups of Iara 1 in Brazil, Kaombo South in Angola, Culzean in the UK, and Johan Sverdrup in Norway.

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Thanks to higher oil prices, Total’s adjusted net income jumped by 28 percent to US$13.6 billion in 2018.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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