Press release

Managing in the COVID-19 Era

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Patrick Pouyanné, chairman and chief executive of TOTAL SA sits down for an exclusive interview with Daniel Yergin, IHS Markit vice chairman, available today at

The one-on-one interview is part of the new CERAWeek Conversations video series produced by the team responsible for the world’s preeminent energy conference, CERAWeek by IHS Markit.

CERAWeek Conversations features original interviews and discussion with energy industry leaders, government officials and policymakers, leaders from the technology, financial and industrial communities – and energy technology innovators.

New installments will be added weekly at

During his conversation with Daniel Yergin, Patrick Pouyanné talks about managing an international energy company through a global pandemic, including:

(Excerpts follow slightly edited for brevity only)

  • The lasting effect of the oil price shock and his longer-term views on balancing the market:

    “Inventories are continuing to grow. People think that we don’t have enough storage in the world. That will be the main effect for me. As we are growing inventories, this crisis in the oil price could last longer than Covid-19, because it will take time to empty storages and get the markets rebalanced.”

    “Between $35 per barrel as an average of the year, compared to $50-60 per barrel, it makes a difference of $9 billion. You come back to what you control. We control the delivery of the asset, which is why our priority today is to maintain as much as we can for as long as we can [with] the production of our assets around the world.”

    “We need to take action immediately in order to prepare the company to face a low price of oil for two years. In 2015-16 it took two and a half years for prices to come back to more acceptable prices by the middle of 2017.”

  • Whether present circumstances have impacted his thinking about TOTAL’s long-term goal of transition beyond an oil company to a broader energy company:

    “No. It even reinforced my conviction. We face another crisis: the climate challenge crisis. This is the reality. As a global society there are clear expectations. We need to take that into account. Our strategy is to extend to be a broad energy company – oil and gas but also low-carbon electricity and carbon neutrality solutions.”

    “The energy markets are changing because of climate change; because of technological evolution and innovation; and because of societal expectations. For a company like TOTAL it’s a matter of how energy markets are moving.”

    “Our strategy is to anticipate these market trends and to be a major player in these new gases or new electrons. The energy transition is not just a transition, it’s adding new markets, new technologies. You don’t get rid of the past; you see an evolution in the markets.”

Watch the complete video at:

Additional segments currently available include:

  • How COVID-19 Will Change Global Politics – featuring William Burns, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Carlos Pascual, senior vice president, global energy, IHS Markit.
  • Global Oil Markets in Turmoil – Featuring Dan Yergin, vice chairman, IHS Markit and Jim Burkhard, vice President, oil markets, IHS Markit. Moderated by Atul Arya, senior vice president, energy, IHS Markit.

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