The importance of history for the Group
France has no oil, but it does have one of the world's leading oil companies. How did the former Compagnie française des pétroles, now Total, born on 28 March 1924, become a major operator on the global oil scene?
Looking back, it is an impressive feat since the Group has had to contend with the vicissitudes of history - crises, wars, nationalizations by producing countries, technological changes - since its inception. Total has developed since that time and has expanded its presence throughout the world. Since 1999, the company has strengthened itself by merging with PetroFina and, at the beginning of 2000, with Elf Aquitaine, so as to join the small club of oil and natural gas majors.
The Illustrated History of Total invites you to discover the saga of Total, which began in the Iraqi sands in the 1920s and to retrace the steps of a company nimble enough to adapt to its environment by going international, diversifying and staying innovative: the conquest of new fields, expansion of the global marketing network and the creation of a major chemical production business. Oil may be a highly strategic form of energy, a heavy industry involving huge capital expenditure and critical technology developments, but the Illustrated History of Total also aims to tell the story of the men and women who built patiently and boldly the company as we know it today.
Total is opening its archives to research, containing almost 60,000 files concerning all Group activities (exploration, operation, and refining and distribution, in particular). The funds originally came from the former Compagnie française des pétroles which became Total, and they were enriched by the mergers with Elf Aquitaine and PetroFina companies. Those funds are identified and structured, and are the object of inventories, thus making extremely rich sources available to researchers concerning the French oil industry and its presence throughout the world. Total embraces it position as a privileged observer of history, focused on more than just preserving it collective internal memory, without glossing over the failures and misfortunes of the past.
Total’s archives are private records. They are open to outside researchers, teachers and journalists. Access to them requires the authorization of Total’s records manager, previously informed of the nature of the project and the purpose and scope of the research. Researchers complete a form that includes a commitment concerning conduct and ethics at the time of their first work session.