The Chief Executive Officer, CEO of Total, Christophe de Margerie is dead; he died after a plane crashed into a snow plough during take-off in Moscow, Russia. Margerie, who became boss of the French firm in 2007, was one of four people – all French – who died in the accident involving the corporate jet.
A Vnukovo International Airport spokesman said: “A plane crashed when it collided with a snow-clearing machine. Three crew members and a passenger died. I can confirm that the passenger was Total’s head de Margerie.”
The driver of the snow plough, who was unhurt, was drunk, according to Russian investigators. “It has been established that the driver of the snowplough was in a drunk state,” the investigating unit said in a statement, adding that a preliminary theory was that “an error by the pilots and the actions of the snowplough driver” led to the accident.
Airport officials have been quoted as saying visibility at the time was 350 metres. Margerie was on a list of attendees at a Russian government meeting on foreign investment in Gorki, near Moscow, on Monday.
The 63-year-old was a staunch defender of Russia and its energy policies amid the conflict in Ukraine. With his distinctive moustache and outspoken manner, Margerie was one of the most recognisable figures among the world’s top oil executives.
He took on the additional role of Total chairman in 2010. Total is the fourth highest valued of the West’s oil companies behind Exxon, Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron.