By Brian Spegele and Andrew Peaple
Updated March 23, 2015 7:50 p.m. ET
BEIJING—Total SA TOT 2.39 % is pushing ahead with a $27 billion natural-gas project in the Russian Arctic, but it will seek a big chunk of the financing—as much as $15 billion worth—through Chinese banks in local currency and euros.
The decision comes amid worry that Western sanctions against Russia could complicate the sort of dollar-based fundraising that is more typical for big energy projects.
Total’s Arctic project—years in the planning—doesn’t run afoul of sanctions itself. But one of Total’s partners in the Yamal liquid natural gas venture is Russian energy firm OAO Novatek, NVTK -1.88 % in which Total has a minority stake. Another big Novatek shareholder is Gennady Timchenko, who has been specifically targeted by U.S. sanctions.
The U.S. and Europe have slapped a series of economic sanctions on Moscow in recent months amid a standoff over Ukraine and Crimea. Under the sanctions regime, rules limit the transfer to Russian firms of technology related to some unconventional drilling techniques, including shale-oil recovery methods and some Arctic and offshore oil projects. But Yamal, a natural-gas project, isn’t specifically affected.