Total wants to brush away oil past with a name change

Higher-than-expected earnings for the fourth quarter are turning Total into primus in the troubled oil sector. A new name should reinforce the cleantech ambitions.

We will not say that the French oil giant Total is immune to the lean oil price and the demand for oil marked by lockdowns. Total net profit fell 59 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier. But at $ 1.3 billion for the fourth quarter, it remains well above the average analyst expectation ($ 1.14 billion).

Profits were down in all divisions: exploration and production, refining and chemicals, and gas and electricity. But when it comes to critical investor metrics, gearing in particular, Total outperformed peers. The company’s net debt to equity ratio, including leases, rose to 25.9 percent at the end of December, compared to more than 30 percent for some European rivals.


Total had already booked most of about 10 billion in impairments in the first half of last year, including heavy write-offs on its Canadian oil sands assets. On an adjusted basis, net income came to $ 4.06 billion for the past year. The group says the outlook remains uncertain and it is aiming for an additional $ 500 million in cost savings by 2021, after saving 1.1 billion last year.

The name TotalEnergies reflects our ambitions to switch to carbon neutrality.

Patrick Pouyanné

CEO Total

The group proposes a dividend of 0.66 euros per share for the period from October to December. That is in line with the previous quarters in 2020.

In addition, Total wants to speed up its transition to cleaner energy. The company says one fifth of its $ 12 billion investment envelope this year will go to renewables and electricity. To reinforce its ambitions, Total proposes a name change to TotalEnergies. “That name reflects our ambitions to switch to carbon neutrality,” said CEO Patrick Pouyanné. Fossil fuels now make up more than half of the turnover, which goes to about a third.

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