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Defying protests, TotalEnergies says seeking new oil fields

TotalEnergies won overwhelming backing for its climate strategy and a new term for its CEO
TotalEnergies won overwhelming backing for its climate strategy and a new term for its CEO - Copyright AFP STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN
TotalEnergies won overwhelming backing for its climate strategy and a new term for its CEO - Copyright AFP STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN

The boss of TotalEnergies told shareholders Friday the French energy giant needed to develop new oil fields to meet global demand, as their AGM was picketed by climate activists.

Patrick Pouyanne warned that higher oil prices prompted by insufficient fossil fuel output “would quickly become unbearable for the populations in emerging countries, but also in our developed countries”.

Demand for oil was growing in line with the global population, he said.

But Pouyanne also promised that TotalEnergies would pursue its “balanced strategy” of developing both fossil fuel and low-carbon energy production.

TotalEnergies had provided proof that it was possible “to be a profitable, or even the most profitable, company while pursuing a transformation” towards cleaner energy, he said.

Climate activists had gathered hours before the general meeting opened, with Greenpeace members unfurling a “Wanted” banner depicting Pouyanne and calling him “the leader of France’s most polluting company”.

The banner was quickly taken down by police.

Several hundred activists belonging to the Extinction Rebellion group meanwhile gathered near the Paris offices of Amundi, a French asset manager and among TotalEnergies’ biggest shareholders.

A few dozen of them forced their way into Amundi’s offices, and a number were arrested.

Climate activists say TotalEnergies is contributing to global warming, to the destruction of biodiversity and to violations of human rights through its gas and oil activities.

At Friday’s meeting, nearly 80 percent of shareholders approved their company’s climate strategy, with more than 75 percent also voting to renew Pouyanne as CEO for three years.

Pouyanne, who last month floated the idea of a New York listing for his company, told the shareholders’ meeting that there was actually “no question” of TotalEnergies leaving France. 

He said in April that there was “a case” to move from the Paris CAC 40 index to New York in search of higher valuations and larger markets.

French President Emmanuel Macron, asked by Bloomberg if he would be “happy” with such a move, responded: “Not at all and I would be very surprised” if it came to pass.

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AFP
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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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