Total in France


Creation of the Compagnie Française des Pétroles (CFP)


Dunkirk refinery opens


In Normandy the first refinery owned by the CFP enters into production


La Mède Refinery enters into production


Creation of the Régie Autonome des Pétroles


The SNPA discovers the gas field of Lacq


The brand Total is launched


"Red Circles are coming", arrival of Elf


The ERAP and the SNPA merge and create Elf Aquitaine (SNEA)


Merger of Total, Fina and Elf


TotalFinaElf becomes Total


Acquisition of Maersk Oil & Gas A / S


Acquisition of Engie's LNG activities


Acquisition of Direct Energie

It all starts with a letter, the one that the president of the Council Raymond Poincaré addresses on September 20, 1923 to the industrialist Ernest Mercier. The statesman entrusts an important mission to Ernest Mercier: create a "tool capable of carrying out a national oil policy". Six months later, the Compagnie Française des Pétroles (CFP) is born. It is the culmination of intense diplomatic negotiations begun at the end of the First World War.


1924 - 1938

The thirties...The entry into the refining

For oil companies, going downstream is a necessity. At the CFP, we understand that. The company will show a surprising pioneering spirit. It starts indeed from nothing! While its Anglo-Saxon competitors already have their refinery networks and highly develop product lines, it is active only upstream. If it wants to deploy throughout the industrial chain, it must add new expertise.

  • April 30th, 1929, creation of the Compagnie Française de Raffinage (CFR, as French Refining Company)

  • 1931, the CFP creates the Compagnie Navale des Pétroles (CNP)

  • 1932, the Dunkerque refinery enters into service. The products are distributed under the Purfina brand.

  • 1933, production of the Gonfreville refinery in Normandy, with a capacity of 900,000 tons of crude oil per year.

  • 1935, commissioning of the Provence refinery at La Mède with a capacity of 500,000 tons.



1939 - 1945

Companies at war

  • July 14th, 1939, discovery of the Saint-Marcet gas field at a depth of 1,600 meters. Reserves are 7 billion cubic meters. This is the first discovery of hydrocarbons in France. When the war broke out, about fifteen holes were drilled. 

  • On September 1st , 1939, just two months after the discovery of gas at St. Marcet, the German army invades Poland. The Second World War begins. 

Saint Marcet
  • Creation of the Régie Autonome des Pétroles (RAP, as Autonomous Petroleum Regie), that will lead to the Elf group later.

  • October 12th, 1939, Emile Miguet, the first oil ship of the Naval Oil Company is sunk by the Germans only two years after its inauguration.

  • 1941, creation of the Société Nationale des Pétroles d'Aquitaine (SNPA as for National Petroleum Company of Aquitaine).

  • 1945, creation of the Bureau de Racherche du Pétrole (BRP as for Bureau of Petroleum Research)



1946 - 1970

The new frontiers downstream

The phenomenal growth of the world's fleet during the Thirty Glorious Years will be one of the most powerful factors in the development of the oil industry and progress made in the refining industry.

  • 1951, discovery of the Lacq gas deposit by the SNPA.

André Blanchard on the Lacq site
  • 1954, creation by the Compagnie Française de Raffinage of the Compagnie Française de Distribution, and launch of the TOTAL brand.

pompe TOTAL
  • In April 1957, the SNPA commissions a gas treatment plant at the Lacq site with a capacity of one million cubic meters per day.

visit de Gaulle
  • 1960, construction of the Gonfreville steam cracker to meet the growing demand for plastics.

  • 1965, acquisition by TOTAL of Desmarais Frères, a major player in the distribution market with the AZUR brand.

  • 1966, creation of the Entreprise de recherches et d'activités pétrolières (ERAP as for Company of research and oil activities), born from the merger between the BRP and the RAP.

  • 1967, launch of the ELF brand with the campaign "Red circles are coming".

red circles
  • 1970, Elf takes over Antar.



1971 - 1990

The time for questioning

In the early 1970s, a series of political events and structural changes plunged the global oil industry into a deep crisis. In companies, no one doubts about it: a new era begins.

  • 1976, creation of the Société Nationale Elf AQUITAINE 5snea AS FOR Elf Aquitaine National Society) merger of ERAP and SNPA.

  • 1980, creation of Chloé Chimie, association of Elf Aquitaine, CFP and Rhône Poulenc.

  • 1982, the CFP completes the first deepwater drilling in the Mediterranean Sea.

forage eaux profondes
  • 1983, birth of Atochem, a subsidiary of SNEA, through the merger of ATO Chimie, Chloé Chimie and part of Péchiney Ugine Kuhlmann.

  • Opening of the first automatic station in France

  • 1985, change of name of the CFP to Total-CFP, then TOTAL in 1991

  • 1989, the Elf Aquitaine group inaugurates in Pau, not far from its historical cradle of Lacq, the Jean-Féger Scientific and Technical Center (CSTJF) named in honor of the former deputy general manager of the National Society of Petroleum of Aquitaine .

Site de Pau
CSTJF in Pau, during its inauguration on the 27th April 1969

1991 - 1999

Market time 

The renewed momentum is accompanied by profound internal changes for Elf and Total. Taken from the 1990s by new men, they transform
their organization, modernize their culture and open up to the financial markets.

  • 1990, Total moves its head office from Auteuil to La Défense, to the Michelet tower, located 24 cours Michelet.

  • 1991, introduction of Elf Aquitaine and Total on the New York Stock Exchange.

  • 1994, sale by the French State of its majority stake in the capital of Elf Aquitaine.

  • 1996, sale by the French State of its residual stake in the capital of Elf Aquitaine.

Since 2000

A new Group

  • 2000, after the integration of Fina in 1999, TOTAL acquires Elf Aquitaine. The new Group created is TotalFinaElf, 4th largest oil company in the world.

  • 2003, TotalFinaElf takes the name of TOTAL.

  • 2006, spin-off of Arkema

  • 2011, investment in the solar energy sector with the acquisition of 60% of the American company SunPower.

panneaux solaires
Converting the La Mède Total Platform into a biorefinery - Installation of solar panels by workers of the company So Tec
  • 2016, acquisition of Saft Groupe, a battery manufacturer and the Belgian company Lampiris, a provider of green electricity and natural gas.

  • 2017, acquisition of Maersk Oil & Gas A / S

  • 2018, Acquisition of Engie's LNG activities; acquisition of Direct Energie, producer and distributor of electricity.