2022 is going well for Total. The French group more than doubled its net profit in the second quarter to 5.7 billion euros. But in view of the war in Ukraine, the climate crisis and rising energy prices for French households, voices against the company are becoming louder. Franceinfo explains why the oil and gas giant’s profits are being heavily criticized.
Because they are related to the war in Ukraine
The surge in oil and gas prices due to the war in Ukraine allowed Total to post exceptional gains in 2022. An observation shared by Patrick Pouyanné, the Group’s CEO: “The impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on energy markets continued into the second quarter, with oil prices rising to over $110 per barrel on average during the quarter.”he commented in a press release.
An international context that causes a stir. Left and right politicians have accused TotalEnergies of exploiting the war to rake in “super profits”. The words “war profiteer” was even said by Emmanuel Macron during a G7 summit in Germany at the end of June, without quoting the company directly. “Stop the war profiteers! Super profits of large corporations urgently need to be taxed,” reacted for his part, the deputy LFI Alexis Corbière, after the announcement of the results of Total, Thursday 28 July.
Because they are due to inflation
These massive gains are all the more difficult given that the rise in energy prices has been hitting the French wallet for several months. In the first six months of the year, the liter of unleaded 95 increased by more than 25%. “The French suffer when Total eats itself”replied Ms Mathilde Panot, President of the LFI Group in the Assembly, when examining purchasing power.
Faced with these price increases, Total has nevertheless decided to make a gesture towards households. A pump discount of 20 cents per liter is therefore granted in the stations of the network between September and November. The discount then drops to 10 cents for the rest of the year, the oil company said on Friday, July 22. “An immediate gain in purchasing power”said the leader of the majority deputies, Aurore Bergé. “mocking”judge the deputy LFI Clemence Gutte.
Because they are not taxed
In view of extraordinary profits, the opposition has been pushing for the introduction of an exceptional tax for several weeks. But the government is against it and prefers a voluntary contribution from companies. The tax proposal was therefore narrowly defeated in the assembly on Saturday, July 23, despite protests from the left and the extreme right.
“Government rejected extraordinary tax on profits related to energy surge”so lamented the socialist MP Valérie Rabault. Mathilde Panot addressed the position of Economics Minister Bruno Le Maire, who called for companies to become self-employed. MP LFI therefore compared Total’s profits to the amount of the pump rebate given by the company:
Bruno Le Maire: “It is better for companies than a tax to make a voluntary contribution. »
profit balance of #In total : 5.7 billion
Voluntary contribution: 500 million discount on taking the pill.
– Mathilde Panot (@MathildePanot) July 28, 2022
When asked about the expediency of introducing a tax on “superprofits”, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne confirmed the government’s position: “We are asking these companies to help us help the French who may be struggling today with inflation.” she estimates that overall “replied with a 20 cent discount at the pump from September”.
Because they don’t benefit the employees
The employees of TotalEnergies have also chosen this symbolic day of the publication of thriving results to go on strike the call of the CGT. Listen to the strikers “Keep the pressure up” and demand wage increases taking inflation into account, according to Thierry Defresne, CGT secretary of the European Works Council TotalEnergies SE. “In Total’s policy, the shareholder is the first privileged”believes the trade unionist interviewed on RMC. “Unfortunately, the Total employees remain the big losers. The inflation of 5.8% is not compensated for the employees.”
Because they are “climate protection agents”.
TotalEnergie’s record profits have also revived criticism from environmental groups. The environmental NGO 350.org denounced a profit “Great” whereas “The oil giant is responsible for some of the most destructive fossil fuel projects on the planet”notably citing a controversial pipeline project in East Africa.
A few weeks earlier, demonstrators had also prevented the group’s shareholders from entering their general meeting. “TotalEnergies invests in many climate-killing projects, finances the worst regimes and makes record profits, it’s so cynical”In particular, she had denounced the environmental activist Camille Etienne.