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Total S.A. (Euronext: FP, NYSE: TOT) is an oil company headquartered in Paris, France, and one of the six "Supermajor" oil companies in the world. Its businesses cover the entire oil and gas chain, from crude oil and natural gas exploration and production to power generation, transportation, refining, petroleum product marketing, and international crude oil and product trading. Total is also a large-scale chemicals manufacturer.
Rejecting the idea of partnering with Royal Dutch Shell, French Prime Minister Raymond Poincaré insisted after World War I that France create an entirely French oil company. At Poincaré's behest, Col. Ernest Mercier, a graduate of the École Polytechnique expert in the electric industry, enlisted the support of ninety banks and companies to found Total on March 28, 1924, as the Compagnie française des pétroles (CFP), literally the "French Company of Petroleums". Petroleum was seen as vital in the case of a new war with Germany. However, the company was from the start a private sector company (it was listed on the Paris Stock Exchange for the first time in 1929). CFP took up the 23.75% share of the Deutsche Bank in the Turkish Petroleum Company (renamed the Iraq Petroleum Company), awarded to France as compensation for war damages caused by Germany during World War I by the San Remo conference.
In 1985 the company was renamed Total CFP. In 1991 the company name became simply Total. After Total's takeover of Belgian Petrofina in 1999, it became known as Total Fina. Afterwards it also acquired the French Elf Aquitaine. First named TotalFinaElf after the merger in 2000, it was later renamed back to Total in 2003.
Total operates in more than 130 countries and has over 111,000 employees. As recently as 1992, the French government still held 5% of the firm's shares, down from a peak of over thirty percent.  In the time period between 1990 and 1994, foreign ownership of the firm increased from 23% to 44%.
Additional recommended knowledge
The AZF chemical plant which exploded in 2001 in Toulouse, France, belonged to the Grande Paroisse branch of Total.
In the 1990s Total and Elf Aquitane (before the merger) won contracts with Saddam Hussein's regime to develop the $3.4 Billion Majnoon and Nahr Umar oil fields in southern Iraq, the world's third largest oil reserves after Saudi Arabia and Iran consisting of 25% of Iraq's oil. Total's Executives were accused of bribery on Iraq's officials. 
Although Total claims to maintain a "socially responsible investment" program, there has been recent controversy over its corporate involvement in Burma, despite recent European Union sanctions on new investment in the country due to its poor human rights record. Democratic activists have accused Total of propping up that country's brutal military junta.
These groups, which include Europe's largest Burma lobbying group, Burma Campaign UK, and the Burmese Democratic Movement Association, point out that Total is currently involved in a joint venture with the military regime developing an offshore gas field in the Andaman Sea. The gas is exported to Thailand through a pipeline that travels 65 kilometres through Burma. Total is one of the biggest foreign investors in Burma. The Burmese government in exile also criticises Total for allegedly funding rape, murder and genocide in Burma, as a result of hiring members of the military to guard their pipeline.
Total has been taken to court by six Burmese people who claimed they were used as forced labour in the preparation of Total's pipeline in Burma. Total paid the villages to drop the case in 2005. In 2005 a 14 year old girl was allegedly gang raped by sixteen members of the Burmese army employed by Total to guard their pipeline. Many activists feel Total has not taken adequate steps to bring those responsible to account.
At a recent meeting of the company's small shareholders in France, activist groups called for Total to cease its operations inside Burma, but the company has refused to budge on the issue, despite urging from activists and independent financial advisors.
The regime benefits from Total's investment and thus, Total's involvement in Burma is branded by democratic activists as a major factor propping up the regime and perpetuating its brutal and illegitimate rule.
The construction of the Yadana pipeline has led to environmental devastation, while revenues from Total's investment in Burma fuel purchases by Burma's dictator, Than Shwe, to increase weapons supplies.
Burma's democracy movement, led by 1991 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi, has called on companies to leave Burma until the ruling dictator agrees to participate in a transition to democracy. Suu Kyi, the world's only imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize recipient, has strongly criticized Total's deal with Burma's military regime, stating: "Total has become the main supporter of the Burmese military regime."
On February 3rd 2006 an International Day of Action Against Total was held. Protests in at least 15 countries worldwide, including the Netherlands, Denmark, France, UK, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Romania, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Switzerland, Ireland, Australia, Thailand and the USA, and a formal request was made by the independent Burmese trade union FTUB to TOTAL Oil to pull out of Burma. The Burmese government in exile (democratically elected by the majority of people in Burma) supported the day.
Apart from Total, the Korean corporation Daewoo is another company active in Burma's developing oil and gas industry.
Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina
See also: US Campaign for Burma, Burma Campaign UK, Boycott Total Oil (Students Against Total), Official Total Response
After taking over Elf Aquitaine, Total inherited a broad range of controversial and ongoing issues, including about 2550 Minol sites (projection from 400 in Thuringia) all over the former East Germany, the transfer of which had been the subject of tens of millions of dollars worth of bribes. The property transfer had also involved the Leuna refinery. In Germany the Leuna scandal was also called the "Chancellor Scandal" because it apparently implicated the former Chancellor Helmut Kohl. See: Leuna Scandal
The headquarters of TotalFinaElf were free-climbed in February 2003 by "Spiderman" Alain Robert, in protest of the American-led invasion of Iraq; he scaled it again on October 19, 2004 while wearing a Spider-Man costume.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Total_S.A.". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|