French energy giant Total became the latest victim of the coronavirus pandemic which slashed energy demand worldwide. The company reported a 2020 net loss of $7.2 billion Tuesday, compared with a profit of $11.2 billion the previous year.
The company, which was to change its name to TotalEnergies to reflect a move away from fossil fuels, said its adjusted net profit – which excludes exceptional and one-off items – plunged 66% in 2020 to just over $4 billion.
"The year 2020 saw two major crises - that of the Covid-19 pandemic which sharply affected global demand and the oil crisis which resulted in prices for Brent oil falling under $20 a barrel in the second quarter," Total boss Patrick Pouyanne said in a statement.
Oil prices even fell into negative territory at one point early last year as the pandemic saw governments worldwide impose harsh lockdown restrictions.
In the last few months however prices have recovered steadily, with Brent crude now back above $60 after producers cut output and the global economy shows signs of a rebound.
Total said its oil and gas production was down 5% last year while it also had to take charges of $8.1 billion to cover asset writedowns.
"The group affirms its wish to transform into a multi-energy company so as to face up to the challenge of the energy transition – more energy, fewer (greenhouse gas) emissions," Pouyanne said.
This change underlies the decision to rename the company TotalEnergies which will be put to a shareholder vote in May, he added.
Most recently, other major energy companies, namely BP and Royal Dutch Shell also posted massive net losses. British energy giant BP reported a huge $20.3-billion net loss for 2020, despite a slender fourth-quarter profit while Shell experienced a $21.7 billion net loss for the same year.
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