Total says accounts blocked, evacuating staff from Venezuela

February 7, 2019

PARIS (Reuters) – French oil group Total has evacuated its remaining staff from Venezuela and its bank accounts there have been blocked as a result of U.S. sanctions, the company’s chief executive said on Thursday.

“The priority has been clearly the safety of all our people and everybody has been evacuated since last Monday,” Patrick Pouyanne, the CEO, told investors on the company’s earnings call, according to a Refinitiv Eikon transcript.

According to Total’s website, the company had a staff of 50 in Venezuela, but a source familiar with the operation there said the number had dwindled to just “administrative” staff who have now been evacuated.

The United States imposed sanctions on Venezuela on Jan. 28 to cut off oil revenue to President Nicolas Maduro, who won re-election last year in a contest widely seen as fraudulent.

Pouyanne said Total will manage its Venezuela operations from Europe, instead of from the United States.

(Reporting by Bate Felix and Benjamin Mallet; additional reporting by Marianna Parraga; editing by Jan Harvey and Leslie Adler)

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