Dhe bubbling oil and gas revenues of Totalenergies (formerly Total) continue to be a source of discussion in France. The energy company is in the sights of left-wing politicians who, like other “crisis profiteers”, want to ask him to pay separately and also accuse him of tax optimization. Totalenergies made a net profit of $5.7 billion in the second quarter alone, after deducting a provision that the group had made due to the threat of sanctions for its stake in the Russian Novatek group.
CEO Patrick Pouyanné has been defending himself aggressively for months against the accusation of not letting the company participate in the success. It is expected that $30 billion in taxes on profits and production will be paid this year after $16 and $6 billion in previous years, he said in a parliamentary hearing. It must be clear, however, that the majority of these taxes are due in countries in which oil is extracted – i.e. outside of France. At home, activities such as the refinery and petrol station business are less profitable and sometimes even record high losses, Pouyanné emphasized.
Totalenergies is trying to appease French motorists with tank discounts. On September 1st, the group’s own fuel discount was extended to all around 3,500 French filling stations and increased to 20 cents per liter of fuel – in addition to the state-granted 30 cents, which together saves around 25 euros for a 50-liter filling . Word has also got around abroad. Gas stations on the border with Germany have repeatedly run empty in recent weeks. CEO Pouyanné spoke of a “rush” and around 80 percent more customers in early September. However, the Totalenergies campaign was not really expensive. Pouyanné puts the losses at around 71 million euros in the first two weeks of September.
A third into renewables
In turn, Totalenergies wants its shareholders to participate in the high profits with share buybacks and higher dividends. The group promised investors this week that it would return between 35 and 40 percent of its cash flow to shareholders this year and in the coming years. He confirmed both the share buyback program announced in July in the amount of 7 billion dollars and the dividend increased by 5 percent to 2.76 euros per share this year. In addition, Totalenergies announced the payment of a special dividend of one euro per share certificate in December and estimates costs of 2.62 billion euros for this.
Totalenergies now also wants to accelerate the “green” conversion. Net 18 instead of 14 billion dollars are to be spent annually in the period 2022 to 2025 for renewable energies and “programs to reduce CO2-footprint”, Pouyanné said on Wednesday. This accounts for a third of the group’s investments. The remaining two-thirds are to flow into the fast-growing liquefied gas business and “the development of cost-effective and low-emission oil projects”. None of this sparked any enthusiasm on the stock exchange. Totalenergies share price is down more than 3 percent this week.