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The HSE division and the HSE departments within the Group’s entities seek to ensure that both applicable local regulations and internal minimum requirements are being met. The Group steering bodies, led by the HSE division, have a threefold task:

  • monitoring Total’s environmental performance, which is reviewed annually by the Executive Committee, for which multi-annual improvement targets are set;
  • handling, in conjunction with the business segments, the various environment-related subjects of which they are in charge; and
  • promoting the internal standards to be applied by the Group’s operational entities as set out in the Safety Health Environment Quality Charter.

The environmental management systems on Total’s major sites are ISO 14001 certified: 100% of the 67 production sites emitting more than 10 kt of GHG per year (excluding start-ups or newly acquired sites, which have two years to be certified) are ISO 14001 certified. Overall, at year-end 2017, 252 sites had ISO 14001 certification. The Laggan Tormore (United Kingdom) and Incahuasi (Bolivia) sites were ISO 14001 certified in 2017. Group rules require certification to be obtained within two years of start-up of operations; accordingly, the Moho Nord (Republic of the Congo) and Barnett (USA) are expected to be certified in 2018 or 2019.

The environmental risks and impacts of any planned investment, disposal or acquisition subject to Executive Committee approval are assessed and reviewed before the final decision is made.

Total seeks to ensure that all employees share its environmental protection requirements. Employees receive training in the required skills. Total also raises employee awareness through internal communication campaigns (e.g., in-house magazines, intranet, posters) and provides annual information about the Group’s environmental performance.

Training courses are organized for managers and senior executives. Three HSE training courses are made available to the operational entities:

  • HSE for Managers is aimed at senior managers and operational or functional managers who are currently or will in the future be responsible for one of the Group’s operational entities (five sessions were held in 2017 with 229 participants);
  • HSE Implementation are aimed at employees whose job is specifically to handle one or more HSE or operational areas within an operational entity (one session was held in 2017 with 20 participants). This offer completes an existing course for the same target population provided by the Group’s business segments; and
  • HSE Leadership for Group Senior Executives focusing on management styles has been organized since 2012 (two sessions were held in 2017 with 30 participants). Since 2012, close to 300 senior executives have taken part in this program.

Incident risk



The Group has management structures and systems that present similar requirements and expectations across all the entities. Total strives to minimize the potential impacts of its operations on people, the environment and property through a major risk management policy. This policy draws on a shared approach in all segments that includes, on the one hand, risk identification and analysis, and on the other hand, the management of these risks.

This structured approach applies to all of the Group’s operated businesses exposed to major risks. In addition to its drilling and pipeline transport operations, the Group has 202 sites and operating zones exposed to major risks corresponding to:

  • all the offshore and onshore operating activities in Exploration & Production; and
  • the Seveso classified industrial sites (upper and lower threshold) and their equivalents outside the EU (excluding Exploration & Production).

This approach first sets out an analysis of the risks related to the Group’s industrial operations based on incident scenarios for which the probability of occurrence and the severity of the consequences are assessed.

Second, based on these parameters, a prioritization matrix is used to determine whether further measures are needed in addition to compliance with the Group’s standards and local regulations. These mainly include preventive measures but can also include mitigation measures.

The management of major risks also hinges on:

  • staff training and raising awareness;
  • a coherent event reporting and indicators system;
  • systematic, structured event analysis, particularly to learn lessons in terms of design and operation;
  • regularly tested contingency plans and measures.

In terms of monitoring indicators, the Group reports the number of Tier 1 and Tier 2 events as defined by the API and the IOGP. A significant reduction in the number of losses of primary containment was observed in comparison to 2016. In addition to the 103 Tier 1 and Tier 2 operational events indicated in the table, the Group recorded two Tier 1 events and one Tier 2 event due to sabotage or theft in 2017.

In accordance with industry best practices, Total also monitors accidental liquid hydrocarbon spills of more than one barrel. Spills that exceed a predetermined severity threshold (in terms of volume spilled, toxicity of the product in question or sensitivity of the natural environment affected) are reviewed on a monthly basis and annual statistics are sent to the Group Performance Management Committee. All spills are followed by corrective actions aimed at returning the environment to its original state as quickly as possible.

In addition, the Group has set up a crisis management process with a dedicated organization and a crisis management center at the head office to enable the management of two simultaneous crises. As part of this process, Total regularly trains in crisis management on the basis of risk scenarios identified through analyses.

In particular, the Group has response plans and procedures in place in the event of a hydrocarbon leak or spill. For accidental spills that reach the surface, oil spill contingency plans are regularly reviewed and tested during exercises. These plans are specific to each company or site and are adapted to their structure, activities and environment while complying with Group recommendations.

In the event of accidental pollution, the Group companies can call on in-house human and material resources (Fast Oil Spill Team, FOST) and benefit from assistance agreements with the main third-party organizations specialized in the management of hydrocarbon spills.

Subsea capping and subsea containment equipment has been installed at different points of the world (South Africa, Brazil, Norway and Singapore) since 2014 in order to provide solutions that can be deployed rapidly in the event of oil or gas eruptions in deep offshore drilling operations. This equipment was developed by a group of nine oil companies, including Total, and is managed by Oil Spill Response Ltd (OSRL), a cooperative dedicated to the response to marine pollution by hydrocarbons. Total has also designed and developed its own “Subsea Emergency Response System” to stop potential eruptions in drilling or production operations as quickly as possible. Since 2015, equipment has been installed in Angola, then the Republic of the Congo, potentially covering the entire Gulf of Guinea region.

With regard to shipping, the Group has an internal policy setting out the rules for selecting vessels. These rules are based on the OCIMF recommendations. This organization manages the Ship Inspection Report (SIRE) Program, and promotes best practices in oil shipping. Total charters vessels at the highest international standards for shipping hydrocarbons and the average of the fleet of Total’s Shipping division is approximately seven years.

Similarly, internal rules define the centralized process for the selection of inland waterway barges. This process is also based on the OCIMF Barge Inspection Questionnaire, an integral part of the SIRE, and on the European Barge Inspection Scheme in Europe.

Environmental footprint



Total implements an active policy of avoiding, reducing, managing and monitoring the environmental footprint of its operations. As part of this policy, emissions are identified and quantified by environment (water, air and soil) so that appropriate measures can be taken to better control them.

The Group’s operations generate emissions into the atmosphere from combustion plants and the various conversion processes and discharges into wastewater. In addition to complying with applicable legislation, the Group’s companies actively pursue a policy aimed at reducing emissions. Sites use various reduction systems that include organizational measures (such as using predictive models to control peaks in SO2 emissions based on weather forecast data and the improvement of combustion processes management, etc.) and technical measures (wastewater treatment plants, using low NOx burners and electrostatic dedusters, etc.).

In 2010, SO2 emissions totaled 99 kt, and the target for 2020 is to remain below 49.5 kt, a level reached in 2016. The improvement in 2017 in linked to the shutdown of la Mède refinery (France).

The risks of soil pollution related to Total’s operations come mainly from accidental spills and waste storage.

The Group’s approach to preventing and controlling these types of pollution is based on four cornerstones:

  • preventing leaks, by implementing industry best practices in engineering, operations and transport;
  • carrying out maintenance at appropriate intervals to minimize the risk of leaks;
  • overall monitoring of the environment to identify any soil and groundwater pollution;
  • controlling pollution from previous activities by means of containment and reduction or elimination operations.

In addition, a Group directive defines the following minimum requirements:

  • systematic identification of each site’s environmental and health impacts related to possible soil and groundwater contamination;
  • assessment of soil and groundwater contamination based on various factors (extent of pollution inside or outside the site’s boundaries, nature and concentrations of pollutants, presence of a vector that could allow the pollution to migrate, use of the land and groundwater in and around the site); and
  • management of health or environmental impacts identified based on the use of the site (current or future, if any) and the risk acceptability criteria recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Group.

Lastly, decommissioned Group facilities (i.e., chemical plants, service stations, mud pits or lagoons resulting from hydrocarbon extraction operations, wasteland on the site of decommissioned refinery units, etc.) impact the landscape and may, despite all the precautions taken, be sources of chronic or accidental pollution. Total has a site remediation policy with the aim to, in agreement with the authorities, allow new operations to be set up once the future use of the land has been determined. These remediation operations are conducted by the Group’s specialized entities. In 2017, Total developed and patented a soil depollution technology, using only solar energy from SunPower photovoltaic panels, that is mobile and can be remotely controlled. The Group’s provisions for the protection of the environment and site remediation are detailed in Note 12 to the Consolidated Financial Statements.

The nuisances resulting from Total’s operations, including sound or odor nuisances or the result of vibrations or road, sea or river traffic, are monitored at the Group’s main industrial sites.

Monitoring systems can be put in place (sound level measurements at the site perimeter or networks of “noses” to determine the origin and intensity of odors, like around the Donges platform in France). In addition, most sites have a system for receiving and handling resident's complaints, with the aim of gaining a clearer insight into the different types of nuisances and minimizing them.

Circular economy



Total announced in February 2017 a circular economy action plan covering the 2017-2020 period which comprises five commitments (purchasing, waste, new ranges of polymers, solarization of service stations and improvement of energy efficiency).

A Group directive sets out the minimum requirements related to waste management. It is carried out in four basic stages: waste identification (technical and regulatory); waste storage (soil protection and discharge management); waste traceability, from production through to disposal (e.g., notes, logs, statements); and waste treatment, with technical and regulatory knowledge of the relevant processes, under the site’s responsibility.

The Group’s companies are also focused on controlling the waste produced at every stage in their operations. This approach is based on the following four principles, listed in decreasing order of priority:

1. reducing waste at source by designing products and processes that generate as little waste as possible, as well as minimizing the quantity of waste produced by the Group’s operations;

2. reusing products for a similar purpose in order to prevent them from becoming waste;

3. recycling residual waste; and

4. recovering energy, wherever possible, from non-recycled products.

On its sites, Total deploys programs to valorize (recycling and valorization) more than half of the Group’s waste. Moreover, Total is especially committed to managing and treating waste classified as hazardous. Due to its nature, hazardous waste is mainly treated outside the Group by specialized companies, representing 178 kt in 2017, compared to 187 kt in 2016 and 202 kt in 2015.

By way of example, in 2017, the Normandy platform in France launched a program to recover the sludge from water decarbonation in the form of liming materials for acid soil. The Antwerp platform in Belgium launched a project to recover gases from refining, previously used as fuel, as raw materials for the petrochemical units.

In 2017, all the Refining & Chemicals segment’s plastic production sites worldwide also joined the CleanSweep® program, which aims to achieve zero loss of plastic pellets in handling operations. Clean Sweep® (OCS) is an international program that aims to avoid losses of plastic pellets during handling operations by the players in the plastics industry, so that they are not disseminated into the aquatic environment.

The Group is also contributing to the circular economy through its involvement in the development of channels for the recycling of used oil and photovoltaic panels.  Total has developed processes that allow up to 50% of recycled plastics (polyethylene and polystyrene) to be incorporated in the production of plastics. In 2017, Total received Plastics Europe’s award for “Innovative materials” for the production of bottles made from recycled polyethylene.

Fresh water

The nature of the Group’s activities, and mainly those of Refining & Chemicals, and to a lesser extent those of the Exploration & Production, Gas, Renewables & Power segments, is such that they have an impact on, and are dependent on, water resources. This is especially true when the activity is located in an environment that is sensitive in terms of water resources.

Total is aware of these challenges and takes water resources into account in its guidelines and operations:

  • in the Safety Health Environment Quality Charter, which states that “ Total controls its use of natural resources, etc.”, in particular water, which is an important natural resource; and
  • in its approach to water, set within the Group’s environmental framework, which incorporates the following core principles for action:
    1. identification of priority sites that are sensitive in terms of water resources,
    2. global management of risks to and impacts on water resources in the Environmental Management System, and
    3. monitoring and integration of changes in this area, especially those associated with climate change, through its stakeholders, partnerships and R&D.

To determine which facilities are most affected by the availability of fresh water, Total monitors its water withdrawals and discharges across all of its sites.

Total identifies the levels of risk of its sites that withdraw more than 500,000 m3 per year and are located in areas potentially exposed to water resource risks, using the Local Water Tool (LWT) from the Global Environmental Management Initiative (GEMI). This tool also helps to guide the actions taken to mitigate these risks in order to make optimal use of water resources on these sites.

The sites operated by the Group are not particularly exposed to hydric risk. 25 sites were affected at the end of 2017, the level of water risk was assessed on 17 priority Group sites (11 Refining & Chemicals, 4 Exploration & Production, 2 Gas, Renewables & Power). These assessments will gradually be extended to include other current high priority sites, of which 8 have been identified. Depending on the nature of the hydric risks and their impacts, a plan to optimize the use of water resources or of specific water-related actions may be drawn up.

In 2017, approximately 80% of the fresh water withdrawals were taken from the Refining & Chemicals segment. At refineries and petrochemicals sites, water is mainly used to produce steam and for cooling units. Increasing recycling and replacing water cooling with air cooling, such as at the Normandy (France) and Antwerp (Belgium) refineries, are Total’s preferred approaches for reducing fresh water withdrawals.

Elsewhere, in Exploration & Production operations, reinjecting water extracted along with hydrocarbons (known as produced water) back into the original reservoir is one of the methods used to maintain reservoir pressure. The specifications in force in the Group stipulate that this option be prioritized over other methods.

The water used on sites producing photovoltaic panels must be very pure. These sites consume a lot of fresh water, which is the reason why they were included in the Group’s LWT initiative in 2017. In 2018, the reuse of water will be investigated on one of these sites.

The Group R&D program for water management is looking into the various aspects of the protection and recovery of water resources. By way of example, studies were made of the reuse of water on the Gonfreville petrochemicals site as part of the E4Water program using the water re-use tool developed by Total’s R&D department. This tool uses the life cycle analysis to define a reuse for water that entails the best forms of recovery, from the societal, economic and technical perspectives. Finally, the development of technical solutions well adapted to the challenges, such as the recently patented BIOMEM process, significantly improve the performance of the biological treatments used, especially on production water.

The Group works with a number of professional organizations, such as the IPIECA, the CONCAWE4 and the EpE5, and, more locally, with the GIZ6 in Uganda, on a water resource sanitary with local communities. The Group's indicators relating to water generally follow the IPIECA framework. The main indicator is aggregate withdrawals.



Total uses the ground surface that it needs to safely conduct its industrial operations and, in 2017, did not make extensive use of ground surfaces that could substantially conflict with various natural ecosystems or agriculture.

For open-pit oil sands mining projects, Total strives to ensure that environmental issues are managed by the operator, in particular with regard to the reclamation of affected soils.

Total has set up a working group to look into the conditions and the impacts of supplies of vegetable oil to the La Mède biorefinery, which is due to start up in mid-2018.


Raw materials

Hydrocarbons, the Group’s main raw material, are a form of energy. Losses of this raw material are divided mainly into 4 categories: gas flaring; cold venting; hydrocarbons discharged in low quantities through aqueous effluents, which amounted to 625 t in 2017; and accidental oil spills. These raw material losses remain negligible with respect to the Group’s production in 2017.

4 Environmental Science for the European Refining Industry.

5 Entreprises pour l’environnement.

6 Gesellschaft für industrielle Zusammenarbeit.


Protecting biodiversity and ecosystems




Due to their nature, the Group’s activities, and particularly its Exploration & Production activities, may be located in sensitive natural environments. Total’s operations can therefore have an impact on ecosystems and their biodiversity.

Total is aware of these challenges and takes biodiversity and ecosystems into account in its guidelines and operations:

  • in the Safety Health Environment Quality Charter, which specifies that  Total “is committed to managing (…) its use of natural resources and its impact on biodiversity” and ecosystems;
  • in the biodiversity approach, set within the Group’s environmental framework, which incorporates the following core principles for action:
    1. deploy the mitigation hierarchy “avoid-mitigate-compensate”: Total applies this approach for the duration of its projects’ lifecycle to minimize the impact of its activities on biodiversity,
    2. take into consideration the sensitivity of ecosystems: In the course of its business, Total identifies and takes into account the diversity and sensitivity of various environments in terms of biodiversity,
    3. manage biodiversity: Total incorporates the biodiversity impact and risk management into its environmental management systems and refers to good practices within the industry,
    4. report: Total reports to its stakeholders on its biodiversity performance,
    5. improve knowledge of biodiversity: Total participates in the improvement of knowledge of biodiversity and ecosystems as well as managing the stakes involved, through R&D initiatives taken with local and international partners and professional associations.

The Group made a commitment not to engage in oil and gas exploration or extraction operations at natural sites included on the UNESCO World Heritage List of June 4, 2013. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Total made the commitment to not carry out any exploration activity in the Virunga National Park, partly located in Block III of the Graben Albertine. The Group publishes the list of its licenses in the Arctic zone, and Total does not conduct any exploration activities of oil fields under sea ice in the Arctic.

Total conducts sensitivity and impact analyses for the development of all its projects. A biodiversity action plan is developed for operated production sites located in the most sensitive protected areas, corresponding to the UICN I to IV or Ramsar categories.

The biodiversity action plan developed in 2015 for Djeno in the Republic of the Congo is currently being deployed. A second plan had been developed on the Atora site in Gabon, which was sold in 2017. Other plans will be developed in the short term, in particular in Italy (the Tempa Rossa project), or in the medium term, in Uganda (the Tilenga project), in Tanzania (the EACOP project) and in Papua New Guinea (the PAPUA LNG project).

In addition to applying the general principles of the Group’s biodiversity policy, Total has agreed to meet the performance standards of the International Finance Corporation (IFC, World Bank) for its Tilenga, Papua LNG and EACOP projects, in order to take the particularly sensitive biodiversity of certain sites into consideration. In this respect, Total can set itself a target of a net gain in biodiversity due to the possible impacts of these projects on critical habitats, by adopting the “Avoid-Mitigate-Compensate” approach, and by avoiding wherever possible. Teams manned by specialists in biodiversity and ecosystem services have been formed to focus on societal matters and the environment. For the most sensitive projects, like the one in Uganda, for example, “Biodiversity and means of subsistence” committees have been set up with external stakeholders from national and international organizations, who are specialized in the protection of nature and relations between communities and the wild fauna. These committees are tasked with ensuring that best practices are properly implemented by Total in its operations, so that it achieves its targets of net gains in biodiversity, which are currently one of the best biodiversity management practices.

The Group actively contributes to the development of best practices related to biodiversity and ecosystem management in the extractive industry through its partnerships with IPIECA, the Cross-Sector Biodiversity Initiative (which brings together the Equator Principles signatory banks and the mining and oil industries), the United Nations Environment Program’s World Conservation Monitoring (UNEP-WCMC) and other work groups on biodiversity bringing together stakeholders from beyond the private sector, such as the Business and Biodiversity Offset Program (BBOP), which includes international NGOs, governments, universities, the World Bank, etc. In France, Total continues its partnership with the Fondation pour la Recherche sur la Biodiversité (Foundation for biodiversity research) and the Centre Vétérinaire de la Faune Sauvage et des Ecosystèmes des Pays de la Loire (France).