A global oil giant lost: Total CEO dies in drunkdriving Moscow runway collision

Published October 21st, 2014 - 08:12 GMT

Christophe de Margerie, chief executive of French oil giant Total, died on Monday in a business jet that collided with a snow plough during takeoff in Russia. The accident at Vnukovo International Airport happened late Monday, when the Dassault Falcon business jet that was due to travel to Paris, hit the snow removal machine. The airport stated it happened only minutes before midnight Moscow time, and took the lives of the driver of the plough, as well as three crew members. "Total confirms with deep regret and great sadness that Chairman and CEO Christophe de Margerie died just after 10 p.m. (Paris time) on October 20 in a private plane crash at Vnukovo Airport in Moscow, following a collision with a snow removal machine,” Total said in a statement. With his unique bushy mustache and outspoken manner, De Margerie was one of the most respected figures among the top oil executives in the world. Russia’s Investigative Committee, which answers to President Vladimir Putin, said in a statement that the snow plough driver was drunk. De Margerie attended a Russian government meeting on foreign investment in Gorki, near Moscow. Patrick Pouyanne, who was entrusted with cutting Total’s exposure to unprofitable European refining sectors, and Philippe Boisseau, head of the company’s new energy division, have been long seen as potential successors. The company’s new management will be highly scrutinized by investors as a change in the chief executive will be reflected on the shareholders and company policy. De Margerie has been under pressure to cut costs and raise dividends amid tight profitability conditions induced by weaker oil prices. Also, he was a stalwart defender of Russia and its policies amid the Ukraine conflict.


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