Translated Monday 2 March 2015, by
In a period of crisis, Total has its priorities.
The Total oil corporation, which has seen its net operating result fall by 62% to 3.7 billion euros, and its total sales fall by 6% (to 206 billion euros), has chosen to up the dividends paid out to its shareholders by 2.5% on each share. At the same time, it announced, at the end of the week beginning Feb. 8, that it wants to make 2,000 of the 100,000 workers that it employs worldwide redundant this year. It has decreed that, in its exploration-production and support divisions grouped at the heart of the holding company, workers leaving the company will not be replaced and there will be a freeze on new hires.
The five refineries in France will also be hit. They employ around 3,800 workers and are losing 200 million euros a year.
The French “major oil company”, which is also going to reduce its off-shore investments in the North Sea, in West Africa, and in shale gas in the U.S., is following the same trajectory as its counterparts. To maintain their profit margins, BP is reducing its investments by 1.75 billion euros this year and Shell is reducing its investments by 13 billion euros over three years.
There is a knock-on effect: the oil service corporations are also going to use staff levels as a variable to offset the fall in the price of crude oil, which is eating away at their profit margins. Thus, for lack of prospecting campaigns, geophysics companies are already beginning to cut costs. Schlumberger, a Franco-American corporation that provides services to oil companies is, for its part, going to shed 9,000 jobs. Its rival, the U.S. corporation Baker Hughes, is for its part going to put 7,000 workers on the dole. Vallourec, a manufacturer of hot rolled seamless steel tubes and of expandable tubular technology for the oil industry, has announced a cost-cutting plan for the end of February, after having admitted to asset depreciation amounting to over a billion euros. As for the dreams of shale gas in the United States, they are turning into a nightmare: 250,000 jobs are threatened if the price of crude oil does not go up quickly.