President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Pouyanne, friends, good afternoon. It is a great pleasure to meet you.
Total has been one of our priority partners for many years now. We share your sorrow at the loss of our friend, Mr de Margerie. This was a great loss. He was not only a prominent public figure and an entrepreneur with a capital ‘E’, but was also a good friend of Russia.
As you know, we posthumously awarded him the Order of Honour, but there have also been various proposals to immortalise his name, including by naming after him one of the large seagoing ships that will work in the energy sector.
As is said though, life goes on, and our work together continues too. We have large and ambitious projects that span the whole continent in scope and will certainly have an impact on the European and global energy sectors.
We know that the oil industry and the energy sector in general are going through some tough times right now, but I think that there will be no surprises in store for either us or you. We took part in a meeting with the OPEC member countries (before the OPEC meeting) and it was clear to us right from the start that after OPEC announced that it would not cut production, prices would respond accordingly and fall a little.
This is the market’s inevitable response, but at the same time, none of the big energy producers, including Russia, insisted on any specific measures to get prices into balance again. We are satisfied overall with the situation and do not see anything so extraordinary in what is happening. Winter is coming and I am sure that the market will come into balance again in the first quarter or towards the middle of next year.
As for us, we have big plans. The gas deposits of Russia’s Yamal-Nenets District alone hold reserves of nearly 1.5 trillion cubic metres of gas. There are other equally important projects elsewhere. In the former case, the cooperation is with NOVATEK, but you have joint projects with Rosneft, Gazprom and other big Russian companies too, including projects in third countries.
I want to first of all congratulate you on your appointment to this high position of CEO of the company and wish you success. We are always open and ready for cooperation and hope to continue our work together.
CEO of French Energy Company Total Patrick Pouyanne (retranslated from Russian): Mr President, I want to thank you for this honour you are doing me by receiving me today in Sochi.
All of our company’s staff were deeply touched by your marks of attention following the death of our president and CEO, Mr de Margerie. The Russian Federation’s Order of Honour is certainly one of these marks of attention, but I also want to mention the initiative that you and Mr Mikhelson [Chairman of the Board of NOVATEK] proposed, giving Mr de Margerie’s name to one of the tankers that will carry the goods produced.
On behalf of Mr de Margerie’s wife, I want to thank you for these marks of attention that you gave following Mr de Margerie’s death.
Vladimir Putin: Merci.
Patrick Pouyanne: I am now receiving Christophe de Margerie’s legacy, so to speak. I want to say that Russia is at the very heart of our development strategy.
I have been working for many years now with Mr Mikhelson. I brought my family here two years ago and we got on the train and travelled the Trans-Siberian from Moscow to Irkutsk. Today, I have the chance to discover another Russian city – Sochi. You colleagues warned me that I should say only nice things about Sochi. It makes me all the happier to be able to say that Sochi really is a wonderful city. But St Petersburg is a rather nice place too.
You mentioned French-Russian relations too. Total is a private company, but it is also one of the biggest French companies and so in some respects could be said to represent the country. You can count on me to do what I can to influence relations between our countries. I will do all within my power.
Vladimir Putin: We will not abuse this. Our relations with Total have their own worth and significance.
Patrick Pouyanne: Incidentally, we have common friends. I worked closely with Francois Fillon when he headed our government and you were Russia’s prime minister.
Yes, we have many projects in Russia. Total’s investments in Russia currently come to nearly $10 billion.