Christophe de Margerie, the chief executive of French oil company Total, has died in an air crash in Moscow.
His corporate jet clashed with a snow plough and was then cover in flames. All four people on board died.
The driver of the snow plough was drunk, according to Russian investigators.
Mr de Margerie, 63, had been chief executive of Europe’s third largest oil company since 2007. He was highly regarded within the oil industry.
He joined Total Group after graduating from the Ecole Superieure de Commerce in Paris in 1974.
At the company, where he had spent his entire career, he was nicknamed “Big Moustache”.
“It’s a huge loss to the industry and its future focus”. former president of Shell Oil John Hofmeister said
“What he has done for Total in repositioning the company to return to integrity and sound operations is deeply respected and highly regarded.”
Total is an important player in the Russian energy market and Mr de Margerie was a loyal defender of maintaining ties, despite Western sanctions against Moscow over its actions in Ukraine.
Total is one of the biggest foreign investors in Russia and is planning to double its output from the country by 2020.
It is working on the Yamal project, a $27bn joint venture to extract natural gas in north-west Siberia.
During his time at the control of Total Mr de Margerie successfully defended the company against allegations of corruption around the UN oil-for-food programme in Iraq.
He maintained the company’s investments in Burma and Iran despite US sanctions against those countries.