CEO of French oil giant Total dies in jet crash at Moscow’s Vnukovo Airport

The CEO of France’s oil and gas giant Total, Christophe de Margerie, was among four people killed in a business jet crash at Vnukovo Airport in Moscow after the aircraft hit a snowplow on take-off.

Total’s chairman and CEO was the only passenger in the Falcon 50 business jet besides three crewmembers who were also French citizens.

“Total confirms with deep regret and great sadness that Chairman and CEO Christophe de Margerie died just after 10pm (Paris time) on October 20 in a private plane crash at Vnukovo Airport in Moscow, following a collision with a snow removal machine,” the company said in a statement.

During the taxiing before take-off, at around 0:10 am Moscow time on Tuesday, the light aircraft hit a snow-clearing machine, the head of Vnukovo’s press service, Elena Krylova, told the media.

“A Falcon airplane that was en route from Moscow to Paris collided with a snowplow while the jet was preparing to take off. The plane caught fire after the collision and all the people onboard – including a passenger and three crew members – died,” Krylova said.

The aircraft did not leave the ground after hitting the vehicle, she added, refuting earlier reports that the plane did eventually take off but then the pilot made a decision to turn back and land. The investigators have already found the aircraft’s black boxes while the airport staff were writing explanatory reports, she added.

News portal LifeNews.ru reported earlier that the plane was in the air for a short period of time, sending distress signals and reporting an engine fire and fuselage damage, before it crashed on the runway, becoming engulfed in flames and killing everyone on board.

“Can we live without Russian gas in Europe? The answer is no. Are there any reasons to live without it? I think – and I’m not defending the interests of Total in Russia – it is a no,” the Total boss told Reuters back in summer.

Meanwhile, another Total project, with Russia’s sanctions-hit Lukoil, is “definitely stopped,” de Margerie said in September, but since the project had not started it did not have “any impact” on Total, he told the Financial Times.

De Margerie had recently expressed his support for a wider use of other currencies in transactions outside the US – for oil purchases in particular – after the scandal involving France’s largest bank, BNP Paribas, which was slapped with a record $9 billion fine and a 1-year dollar trading ban.

“Nothing prevents anyone from paying for oil in euros,” de Margerie said in July. “The price of a barrel of oil is quoted in dollars. A refinery can take that price and using the euro-dollar exchange rate on any given day, agree to make the payment in euros.”

Full article: CEO of French oil giant Total dies in jet crash at Moscow’s Vnukovo Airport (Russia Today)

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