Total's new CEO Patrick Pouyanne. Image courtesy of Solocal Group/Youtube.

France’s Total has tapped refining chief Patrick Pouyanne to succeed CEO Christophe de Margerie who died in a plane crash late Monday night.

Pouyanna was nominated for the position today at a board meeting in Paris, the Globe and Mail said.

Total will split the role of chairman and CEO.

Pouyanna joined Total in 1997 and has served in a variety of senior roles including CEO of Total E&P Angola.

He has been a member of the company’s management committee since 2006 and was appointed to his current role as president of refining and chemicals and executive committee member in 2012.

Former chairman Thierry Desmarest will return for a second turn as chairman of the board. His tenure will conclude at the end of 2015 in accordance with age limits laid out in the company’s bylaws.

After Desmarest steps down the positions of chairman and CEO will be recombined, Total said.

Pouyanna, 51, will have to guide Total through cost cutting measures as low returns from refining and weak oil prices hit the company’s bottom line.

The new chief will also have to navigate Total’s efforts in Russia including a shale drilling joint venture with Lukoil that was suspended to comply with western sanctions and the $20 billion Yamal LNG project.

Total expects the Yamal project, led by Russia’s Novatek along with China’s CNPC, to continue as planned despite the sanctions.

De Margerie had already begun selling off older assets and easing back new investments as part of a $2 billion cost cutting plan.

He was killed on October 20 after a private jet he was flying in collided into a snowplow on a Moscow runway during take off.

The driver of the snowplow was allegedly drunk at the time of the accident.

All four people on board the jet were killed. The snowplow driver survived.


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