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February 9, 2021

Total annual report explains rebranding and Covid-19 losses

French oil giant Total has proposed a name change in its annual report, which shows how the company took a smaller hit from the Covid-19 pandemic than many other large producers.

By Matt Farmer

French oil giant Total has proposed a name change in its annual report, which shows how the company took a smaller hit from the Covid-19 pandemic than many other large producers.

In Total’s annual report, CEO Patrick Pouyanné said the name change came because: “The group’s profile will be transformed over the 2020-30 decade. The growth of energy production will be based on two pillars: LNG and renewables/electricity, while oil products are expected to fall from 55% to 30% of sales.”

Across 2020, the Total group made a net loss of $7.2bn, down from an income of $11.2bn in 2019. When adjusted, the company showed a net income of $4.06bn, still down 66% on the previous year.

Operational cash flow fell 40% from the year before, as the company’s acquisitions and investment spending fell by 35% and 26%, respectively.

However, the company’s material hydrocarbon production fell by only 5%, reaching 2.87 million barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2020. This mainly came from falling oil production, which declined by 9%. As oil prices slowly rose, production of oil and gas crept up in the final quarter of 2020.

Outside of earnings from hydrocarbon production, most of Total’s figures showed only small declines from 2019. For the first time, the company separated its oil and gas results from its integrated gas, renewables, and power results. These showed substantial improvements on 2019, with the company’s net power production in 2020 increasing by 24% to 14.1TWh. Despite this, the sector’s adjusted net income fell by 26%.

Summarising the report, Pouyanné said: “The group implemented an immediate action plan and proved its resilience thanks to the quality of its portfolio and its integrated model. It posted an adjusted net income of $4.1bn and thanks to strong discipline on investments and costs, the organic cash breakeven was $26 per barrel.

“Consistent with its climate ambition, the company recorded exceptional asset impairments of $10bn, notably on Canadian oil sands assets, most of which were recorded in its accounts at the end of June, leading to an IFRS loss for the year of $7.2bn.”

In a webcast, exploration and production president Arnaud Breuillac spoke about the technological measures the company would take in order to eliminate emissions. He also mentioned a company-wide review of projects to reduce emissions at all operational facilities.

For this, he said: “For most of these projects we will spend less than $40/t to reduce CO₂.

“We have committed to reducing our scope one and two emissions from our operated oil and gas facilities by 40% by 2030. We will do this by electrification and efficiency savings. As part of this, we will scrutinise all new projects to establish that their net contribution to our emissions targets is positive.

In African nations, the company will reduce flaring by rerouting some of its production. Ahead of the end of flaring in 2030, Breuillac committed to better monitoring and reduction of methane emissions, saying “we aim to be an industry leader, lowering methane emissions to below 0.2% of oil and gas product”.

In the North Sea, the company hopes to connect platforms to wind turbines or land-based generation to reduce their emissions through platform electrification. In Mozambique, the company will install a solar farm for platform electrification, while its European refineries will switch from fuel oil to natural gas for steam and electricity generation.

The company maintained its dividend at $0.80/share (€0.66/share). The company’s shares slid a moderate distance following the announcement of the results.

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