Total chairman and chief executive Christophe de Margerie. Image courtesy Mouvement des Entreprises de France.

Total chairman and chief executive Christophe de Margerie. Image courtesy Mouvement des Entreprises de France.

THE CHAIRMAN and chief executive of French oil major Total, Christophe de Margerie, has died, the company has confirmed in a statement.

“Total confirms with deep regret and great sadness that chairman and chief executive Christophe de Margerie died just after 10:00pm (Paris time) on 20 October in a private plane crash at Vnukovo Airport in Moscow, following a collision with a snow removal machine,” the company said.

Total said Mr de Margerie was one of four people who died at the scene of the accident. The three other victims were crew members.

“The thoughts of the management and employees of the group go out to Christophe de Margerie’s wife, children and loved ones as well as to the families of the three other victims,” Total said.

Mr De Margerie, aged 63, joined Total in 1974 after graduating from the École Supérieure de Commerce de Paris, a French business school.

He worked his way up the ranks of the company, being appointed president of the company’s Middle East division in 1995 before joining the group’s executive committee as the president of the exploration and production division in May 1999.

Following a May 2006 shareholders’ meeting, De Margerie was appointed a member of the board of directors of Total, and in February 2007, becoming chief executive of Total, chairing its executive committee.

He was appointed chairman and chief executive by the board of directors in 2010.

Following news of his death, the Total board appointed former chief executive Thierry Desmarest as chairman and former refining and chemicals president Patrick Pouyanne as chief executive.

Mr Desmarest’s role as chairman will conclude at year end 2015 in accordance with the age limits stipulated in company bylaws. The positions of chairman and chief executive will then be recombined, Total said.