Oil major Total’s full-year profit falls 66% as Covid pandemic hits fuel demand

An employee of the ‘Total’ oil refinery stands in front of a large tank with the company’s logo in Leuna, Germany.

Waltraud Grubitzsch | picture alliance via Getty Images

LONDON — France’s Total on Tuesday reported a massive drop in full-year profit, following a tumultuous 12 months in which commodity prices collapsed amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The energy major said full-year 2020 net profit came in at $4.06 billion, beating expectations of $3.86 billion, from analysts polled by Refinitiv. It compared with $11.8 billion for the 2019 fiscal year, reflecting a drop of 66% year-on-year.

Total also posted fourth-quarter net profit of $1.3 billion, beating analyst expectations of $1.1 billion.

Shares of Total are up around 0.8% year-to-date, having tumbled more than 28% last year.

The oil and gas industry was sent into a tailspin last year, as the coronavirus pandemic coincided with a historic demand shock, falling commodity prices, evaporating profits, unprecedented write-downs and tens of thousands of job cuts.

Last week, U.K.-based oil and gas major BP reported its first full-year net loss for a decade, while U.S. oil giant Exxon Mobil reported its fourth consecutive quarter of losses. The Anglo-Dutch oil giant Royal Dutch Shell also reported a sharp drop in full-year profits.

BP CEO Bernard Looney described 2020 as the “toughest” of his career, while Exxon Mobil CEO Darren Woods said the last 12 months “presented the most challenging market conditions Exxon Mobil has ever experienced.”

Energy majors have warned that the ongoing coronavirus crisis is likely to continue to impact their performance in the near-term while seeking to reassure investors about their future profitability.

International benchmark Brent crude futures traded at $61.22 a barrel on Tuesday morning, around 1.1% higher, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate futures stood at $58.54, up almost 1%.

Brent prices surpassed $60 a barrel on Monday for the first time since Jan. 2020.

Oil prices have steadily improved in recent weeks, supported by ongoing production cuts and the mass rollout of Covid vaccines.

Growing pressure on Big Oil

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