France’s oil and gas major Total has pulled out all its personnel from Venezuela following the U.S. sanctions on Venezuelan state oil firm PDVSA, which also blocked Total’s accounts in the Latin American country, CEO Patrick Pouyanné said on Thursday. Total’s accounts have been blocked due to U.S. decisions, AFP quoted Pouyanné as saying at the presentation of the group’s 2018 financials. “The other practical problem is that, given the sanctions, we should no longer manage Venezuela from the United States… but from Europe,” the manager said, noting that Total of course will be complying with the U.S. sanctions and has put its Venezuelan operations in a “hibernation mode.”

As of 2017, Total had around 50 employees in Venezuela, according to the group’s website. The French group first began exploration in Venezuela back in 1980, and has been active in the exploration and production of extra-heavy crude oil and natural gas in the Latin American country.  However, after the U.S. imposed sweeping sanctions on PDVSA at the beginning of last week, Total has frozen operations.  “We decided to evacuate all of our personnel from Venezuela given what has happened… since last Monday,” AFP quoted Pouyanné as saying on Thursday.