Total, a Major Energy Operator for Almost a Century

Drilling rig on the Fateh oil field in Dubai

Total's history begins in the 1920s, with the creation of Compagnie Française des Pétroles (CFP). We have since diversified into a leading global energy company, on the cutting edge of innovation.

Compagnie Française des Pétroles (CFP) began production in the Middle East in 1924. Over the years it skillfully adapted to its environment, expanding internationally and diversifying its activities into the downstream, refining, marketing and chemicals sectors. It also managed to stay innovative, discovering and developing new oil fields, expanding its retail network globally and creating a large-scale, chemical production business segment.

The Product of a Multi-Brand Merger

The Red Line Agreement reached in San Remo announces the creation of Compagnie française des pétroles

Compagnie Française des Pétroles (CFP) was created in 1924 at the instigation of French Prime Minister Raymond Poincaré. He wanted to "develop oil production under French control in the various producing regions."

CFP was listed on the Paris Bourse in 1929 and solidified its position over the years. It was renamed Total-CFP in 1985, then Total in 1991.

Total's merger with PetroFina in 1999 and Elf Aquitaine in 2000 further strengthened the company.


Open to researchers, our historical archives contain 60,000 documents on all of our activities. Compagnie Française des Pétroles (CFP) originally provided the materials, but our mergers with PetroFina and Elf Aquitaine expanded the collection.
Total's archives are an extremely rich source of information on the history of the French oil and gas industry and its presence in the world. They are available for use by researchers, academics and journalists.

Total's Growth and Diversification

Since our founding, Total has grown and developed against a backdrop of historical upheavals that have included crises, wars and nationalizations in producing countries. We have always proved able to adapt to changing environments, advances in technology and new energy challenges.

Installation of the Haifa terminal, a subsea pipeline linking Kirkuk to the Mediterranean in the 1930s

Our operations began in the Middle East, then expanded internationally and diversified over the ensuing decades. In 1929, we embarked on exploration work to discover and develop new fields. Our refining activities began the same year with the creation of an affiliate, Compagnie française de raffinage (CFR); this was followed, starting in the 1960s, by our Chemicals business segment. At the same time, we gradually expanded our retail network, which is now global.

The Anguille offshore platform in Gabon, 1961

Furthermore, we have always stayed on the cutting edge of innovation in our various areas of activity.

    • We discovered our first offshore fields in 1961 in Gabon and performed our first deepwater drilling operation (1,714 meters) in 1982 in the Mediterranean.
  • We began diversifying into solar energy in 1975. In 2011, Total acquired 60% of U.S.-based SunPower, the world's third-biggest solar company.
  • In 2010, we inaugurated the first European carbon capture, transportation and storage pilot project in Lacq, France.
  • Our first automated service station opened in 1986, in France. In 2011, we created the Total Access network, 600 low-cost stations across the country in 2013.

We have also been committed for years to protecting the environment and take major social issues into consideration when planning and making decisions.

Created in 1992, the Total Foundation provides long-term support to initiatives of public interest, conducted by public and private partners in Total’s host countries, and fosters closer ties with local communities. The aim is to build local capacity for the future and to develop models that can be reproduced elsewhere. Today, the Total Foundation is France's largest corporate foundation. Together with Total’s corporate philanthropy projects, its initiatives represent close to €30 million each year.

Finally, in 2001, we crafted our sustainable development policy, introduced a Code of Conduct and set up an Ethics Committee.

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