Total Fina-Elf

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Total Fina-Elf

“Total is a multinational energy company committed to leveraging innovation and initiative to provide a sustainable response to the growing energy demand”[1]. It operates in 130 countries and has more than 95.000 employees. It reported sales for 158.7 billion Euros in 2007[2].

Company History

The company as it is known today is the result of two successive mergers: first of Total and Belgium’s PetroFina creating Totalfina. Second of TotalFina and Elf Aquitaine creating TotalFinaElf. Keeping this in mind, the company renamed “Total” in 2003[3]. Further history information of the company is available at:

Business Strategy

The company publishes a short summary of its business strategy on its webpage. According to it, Total´s business strategy is based in 5 main ideas[4]:

1. “Growing its hydrocarbon exploration and production activities trough out the world”

2. “Expanding progressively Total´s energy offerings and growing new energies businesses”

3. Developing and adapting its refining system and consolidating its position in the marketing segment in Europe” as well as “expanding its position in the Mediterranean besin, the Asian and African markets”

4. “Growing its petrochemicals business, particularly in Asia and the Middle East, while improving the competitiveness of its operations in mature areas” 5. “Intensifying research and development to develop “clean” sources of energy and contribute to the moderation of energy demand and the fight against global warming”.

Political and Public Influence

Political Contributions

Total spend $240.000 dollars on lobbying in 2002[5].


Corporate Accountability

The company publishes, on its webpage, a very complete report of its corporate governance structure[6], its principles, values, mission and vision as well as its code of conduct and its code of ethics that promote the equality between all the groups of interest that interact with the company. It has very organized committees that have different kind of responsibilities. One of these committees is the compensation committee that is responsible of revising the salary policy, and others, at all times. However the company has been involved in several controversies.

Social commitment and Public Controversies

4 December 2008: “Over 230 Worldwide have a public human rights policy statement, on eve of the 60th anniversary of the universal declaration” [7]

This link makes reference to a document that two organizations (Realizing rights and published making reference to the companies that have made a public commitment to human rights. Total is included in this group of more than 230 companies.

25 November 2008: “Translating intent into action” [8]

This article makes count of a very noble initiative that is been developing in Ethiopia to fight against the HIV. Into the group of companies that are supporting the initiative, Total Ethiopia is included.

October 2008: “Money and morals in rogue regimes” [9]

This article discusses the controversy that has been taking place around the presence and relations of multinationals companies with, who have been named, “rogue regimes”. The revenues these companies pay can even “sustain the existing power structure of such regimes, increasing the risk of right abuses”. According to the article the debate around the ethical principles of these companies is burning and is, off course, very difficult to solve because on the one hand they are accused of supporting totalitarian regimes but on the other hand they are just working and operating with all respect for the sovereignty and regime of these countries.

3 June 2008: “New Burma “Dirty List” – Companies Named and Shamed”[10]

This article, published by the Campaigning for Human Rights And Democracy in Burma organization, mentions, again, the debate around the relation between multinational companies (Total included) and the Burma´s military dictatorship. According to the article this regime has been brutal and there is no justification to support this kind of governments. Moreover the article mentions that the companies mentioned on a list they did (153 companies in total) are not just supporting the regime by paying taxes but also giving it extra money, which, according to the author, results unacceptable.

3 October 2007: “Petrolera Francesa Total a juicio por atrocidades” [11]

This article is about the possible call of Total to a European court because of its controversial presence in Burma. According to the article a Belgian public prosecutor decided to seize the demands of 4 Burmanian refugees that assure that they have several proves that would demonstrate not just the support but also the participation of Total in the cruel actions of the dictatorial regime of Burma. The company is also accused of having used forced labor provided by the military regime to build a gas pipeline.

26 July 2007: “Leading article: A regime we should not be doing business with” [12]

This article is a leading article published on the “The Guardian” diary. The article points out that the UK´S companies shouldn’t be doing business with a brutal and totalitarian regime like the Burma’s. According to the article this is simply “giving to the Burmese people with one hand and taking away with the other” more when the UK´S government has publicly announced its disapproval to the abuses of the actual regime. This attitude is hypocrite and unequal with the people that, indirectly, are being affected from the money that companies like Total pay to the regime.

23 May 2008: “Sudan divestment campaigns gain momentum” [13]

This article, published on the Herald Tribune, denounces, again but this time in Sudan, the suspicious relations between multinational companies and totalitarian regimes. According to the article besides the suspect that these connections cause on themselves, these companies also seem to “make poor investments, financially as well as ethically”. In other words the author affirms that these companies are not just supporting a brutal regime but also being very irresponsible in terms of social contributions. The author suggests that there is a directly proportional relation between the support of the regime and the precarious contribution of these companies to the social projects.


5 September 2006: “Employment discrimination: River State House of Assembly to probe Elf” [14]

This article points out that Elf (subsidiary of Total) has been involved in a controversy in Nigeria because some River State lawmakers have expressed their nonconformist with the process with which the company selects its employees. According to them, Elf has been discriminating the Rivers people. The company has said that is not right and both the Rivers People and the company are waiting for a solution.

29 November 2005: “Total pays 5.2 mln eur to settle claims of forced labour used in Myanmar”[15]

This article reports the imposition of a fine to Total SA for supposed use of forced labor in Myanmar. According to the article, although the company denied all the accusations, it accepted to pay the fine just to “settle claims”. The company has continually say that all what they do in that zone, Myanmar Burma, is for humanitarian reasons.

Human Rights

31 October 2007: “Companies not doing enough to protect rights of indigenous peoples”[16]

This is a report published by the “Ethical Investment Research Services (EIRIS)” that examines the policies and strategies that 7 multinational companies have adopted to confront, respect and deal with the rights of the indigenous peoples. According to the report these 7 companies (Total included) have not done enough in order to respect the indigenous rights to land and sea. Total, for instance, with grave omissions has let a lot of oil spills to happen and that has affected the health of several numbers of indigenous communities.

28 August 2007: “Kazakhs Suspend Permit for Oil Field”[17]

This article, published on “The New York” diary, points out that the Kazakhstan’s government suspended environmental permits for a consortium, in which total was included, of foreign energy companies that were developing one of the largest oil find in the world. According to the article the suspension came when both the consortium and the government were negotiating new terms for the contract for the field. This suspension, although didn’t seem to have negative effects on the long term, represented a big cost for the consortium and the government in terms of income and revenues respectively.


16 January 2008: “Total found guilty 1999 French oil spill case” [18]

This article points out that Total was found guilty for a 1999 sinking of the tanker Erika. According to the article, as a consequence Total was ordered to pay a large amount of money (a share of 192 million Euros in damages for civil parties) for this incident.

5 November 2007: “Half of UK´S top firms fail to publish plans to cut carbon emissions” [19]

This article, published on “The Guardian” diary, reveals that only 48 of the top 100 companies trading on the UK Stock Exchange have published a plan that shows clearly how are they going to reduce their carbon emissions. According to the article this cut is a necessity and should be at the first place on the multinational companies agenda. The article also points out that this time is not the first time that an authority alerts the companies of the damage that they are producing.

21 October 2002: “Fur refineries face Texas environmental probes” [20]

This article is about an investigation that the Texas environmental commission is developing to four oil companies (Atofina, subsidiary of TotalFinaelf (name of Total at that time)) for supposed “excessive releases of chemicals into the air above the town of 58.000 residents about 90 miles east of Houston”. It is important to mention that these four companies, at the moment the commission began the investigation, were already paying fines of almost $10.000 dollars per day.

Business Scope

Financial Information

All the financial information is available on the following webpage:



Contact Information

Depending on the kind of information that is needed, a variety of links to contact the company are available on the following webpage:

Articles and Resources

Books on the Company

Related SourceWatch Articles



External Resources

External Articles (very important link)$DTO_SESSION$LANGUE_0=EN

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