Senate probe urges France stop importing Russian LNG

Senate probe urges France stop importing Russian LNG

European nations including France continue to import Russian natural gas by ship
European nations including France continue to import Russian natural gas by ship. Photo: Loic VENANCE / AFP/File
Source: AFP

A Senate investigating committee called Wednesday for France to stop importing Russian liquefied natural gas (LNG) and push for the fuel to face EU sanctions.

The committee's report also urged the state obtain special rights over French energy giant TotalEnergies' strategic decisions and major changes in shareholders.

The probe was launched in December at the instigation of greens lawmakers, but the report was adopted unanimously by committee members although the upper house of parliament is dominated by an alliance of centrist and conservative lawmakers.

TotalEnergies sparked a political furore in France earlier this year when its chief executive Patrick Pouyanne floated the idea of moving the company's main stock listing from Paris to New York.

The report urged the French state to get a "special share" that would give it influence over strategic decisions and changes in ownership of the company.

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It said such a move was justified given "the evolution of threats weighing up the energy sovereignty of France and Europe, the evolution of the shareholders structure of TotalEnergies."

North American investors own a large portion of the company's shares.

The committee's report also called for France take a leading position among European nations "by proposing the inclusion of Russian LNG to the list of sanctioned energy products and lead by example by halting as soon as possible the import of Russian LNG into France."

Although deliveries of Russian gas to Europe by pipeline dried up after Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine, deliveries of LNG by ship continued, with TotalEnergies transporting the gas from Siberian fields to France.

Western sanctions have targeted Russian crude and oil products, but have spared natural gas which is key for heating and industry.

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The report also called for French companies to halt starting new oil and gas projects or proceeding to new stages of projects under way in Azerbaijan, which will host the UN climate conference in November.

The committee was formed to look into the means the French state had available and was deploying to ensure TotalEnergies is meeting climate mandates and following French foreign policy goals. The report made a total of 33 recommendations to the state.

Source: AFP

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