Total in South Africa


Entrance of Total in South Africa




Inauguration of the SATREF refinery in Johannesbug

Total entered South Africa in 1954, at the very beginning of its international expansion via a company whose activities are from Mozambique: deposit in Lourenço Marques, participation in the railway line that serves the region between Lourenço Marques and Johannesburg, namely South Africa, Rhodesia and Mozambique. From the end of the sixties the Group starts an exploration campaign in upstream. The group diversifies into the mining of minerals, uranium and coal.

1954 - 1976

  • 1954, CFP establishes itself downstream by creating a deposit in Durban. By 1958 the company would be profitable.
Total Warehouse in Durban
Total deposit in Durban. ©Corneman Robert - Total
  • 1960, Total inaugurates a new terminal in Cape Town.
  • 1965, Total sells 378 KT of products, the double of its sales in West Africa, and builds a blending plant in Durban.
  • 1967, Total changes its name to Total South Africa Pty. It also agreed with Sasol and the Iranian national company to build a refinery in Johannesburg (known as NATREF).
Total building in Capetown
Total building in Capetown. ©Odinet Michel - Total 


  • 1967, the CFP applies for an exploration permit on the Eastern Continental Shelf, with BP. Total South Africa is operator for 25%. Only one drilling will be carried out in 1970.
  • 1970, Total embarks on LPG marketing.
  • 1971, the Sasolburg refinery opens in April.
NATREF refinery of Sasolburg
NATREF refinery of Sasolburg. DR TOTAL
  • 1973, the CFP signes agreements with the Rio Tinto Group to purchase uranium from the Rössing mine.
  • 1976, the Rössing mine production begins. The Ermelo coal mine starts operations. It will produce 2000 tons of coal per day the following year.

1977 - 1999

  • 1981, Total has a 50% interest in the Arthur Taylor coal mine.
  • 1985, Total sells 1623 KT of products (4.3 times the 1965 figure, while at the same time the total consumption of petroleum products in the country has increased by 2.5); it has 686 outlets and a 12% share of the gasoline market.
  • 1997, Elf opens a subsidiary in GPL.
  • 1999, Totalfina acquires its last part of interest in the Forzando and the Dortsfontein mines.
Coal Mine of Forzando
Coal Mine of Forzando. ©Zylberman Laurent - Total


2000 - 2019

  • 2001, TCSA, (Total Coal South Africa) subsidiary of TotalFinaElf sells 6 Mt of coal to buyers in Europe and Asia.
  • 2002, Total Energy, a joint subsidiary of EDF and TotalFinaElf, is partnering in a large-scale rural electrification program (15,000 customers).
    In February 2004, under the legislation promoting the Black Economic Empowerment in South Africa, TOTAL sells 25% of the capital of the Dorstfontein mine to Mmakau Mining. This agreement is the first step in opening the Group’s coal activities to South African investors benefiting from the priority treatment instituted by this legislation. Similar agreements for the other mines operated by the Group in South Africa will be reached later (ATC and Forzando).
Enter of Dorstfontein mine.
Entrance of Dorstfontein mine. ©Zylberman Laurent - Total
  • 2010, Tenesol has a solar panel production plant in South Africa, whose capacity is increased from 60 MWc/year to 85 MWc/year in 2010.
  • 2012, Total participates in the Shesha program, which provides assistance in the supply of LPG, sale of gas cylinders to township residents, whose use improves the safety and health of people.
  • 2013, TOTAL acquires in September a participation in the permit 11B-12B (50%, operator). The permit, covering an area of 19,000 km2, is located approximately 175 km south of the South African coast by water depths ranging from 200 to 1,800 metres. In August, the Group received the approval of the South African authorities to transform the technical cooperation permit of the Outeniqua block (100%) into an exploration permit subject to the sale by TOTAL of 20% of its stake. The Outeniqua Block, approximately 76,000 km2, is located southwest of permit 11B-12B by water depths ranging from 400 to 4,000 metres.
  • 2013, TOTAL and SunPower are selected by the South African government, following a call for tenders, for the construction of a ground-based solar power plant of 86 MWc. TOTAL is a 27% shareholder, and SunPower supplies the solar panels and builds the power plant.
  • 2014, July, Total signs a contract to transfer TCSA to Exxaro, a South African-based mining company.
  • 2016, SunPower completes construction of the Prieska Solar Farm (86 MWc).
Sunpower solar plant, Prieska
Sunpower solar plant, Prieska. ©Cherie Vale - Newsport Media
  • 2018, Total starts an exploration well in December on the Offshore Permit 11B /12B (45% operator).
  • 2019, Total announces in February the discovery of condensate gas on the prospect of Brulpadda.