French supermajor Total is rebranding as it accelerates a shift away from oil and into renewables and the wider power sector, a move its CEO claimed shows it is “more than serious” about the energy transition.
Total – one of the leading fossil giants in terms of renewable energy ambitions – will propose to its shareholders a name change to TotalEnergies.
The group said the change would reflect a profile that will be “transformed” into a broad-based energy company in the coming decade, with a strategy based around the “pillars” of liquified natural gas (LNG), renewables and electricity, while oil products fall to 30% of sales from 55% now.
We want to establish TotalEnergies in a new category.
“We want to anchor this transformation in our identity,” CEO Patrick Pouyanne told financial analysts. “We’re more than serious [that] we want to establish TotalEnergies in a new category... no more an oil and gas company but an energy company.”
Pouyanne said the move was “an important decision” needed to help demonstrate to sceptical equity markets that the group has a “long future”.
Total has set one of the largest renewable energy targets of any fossil major at 35GW of gross renewable capacity operating by 2025. It already has that figure installed, or under construction or development, after a string of deals in early 2021, including major solar agreements in the US and India.
Offshore wind has emerged as the other key plank of Total’s renewables growth, with forays in the sector in both fixed-foundation and floating development in Europe and Asia.
Total was on Monday named as a joint winner in the latest round of auctions for new offshore wind leases off the UK in partnership with Macquarie, and recently said it would bid to build Denmark’s largest offshore wind farm.
The oil & gas group, which like European peers has set 2050 corporate net zero goals, said it will allocate 20% of net investments to renewables and “low carbon power” this year. That should equate to $2.4bn, up from $2bn in 2020.
But the name change is also certain to attract claims of 'greenwashing', given that even its high level of ambition compared to most of its rivals would still leave Total devoting the lion's share of investment to fossil-related areas by the end of the decade.
News of the planned name change came as Total posted a full-year consolidated net loss of $7.34bn on the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on oil markets in 2020.
Note: Updates earlier version of article with CEO quotes