French oil giant Total facing investor resolution on tar sands

Company to face questions at AGM in May

French activist investor PhiTrust Active Investors is to quiz Total SA on the tar sands issue at the oil major’s forthcoming annual shareholder meeting.
PhiTrust says it will table a resolution on the risks involved in its tar sands operations in Alberta, Canada.
Fellow oil firms BP and Shell have faced similar shareholder resolutions on the tar sands issue in the past, but PhiTrust claims it is the first such resolution in France. Total is set to hold its Annual Shareholders’ Meeting in Paris on May 13.

Total has interests in several tar sands projects in Alberta’s Athabasca region through its Total E&P Canada subsidiary. In January it received conditional approval for its Joslyn North Mine Project, about 70km north of Fort McMurray – increasing Alberta’s approved mineable project area by about 7%.

PhiTrust, an asset manager signatory to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment which specialises in shareholder engagement, is putting theresolution forward in partnership with Greenpeace France and US campaign group the Natural Resources Defense Council. It is hosting a breakfast briefing on the matter in Paris on February 16.
For its part, Total says environmental stewardship is a priority and cites its position as the top-ranked oil and gas company in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. It acknowledges that oil sands development is challenging in terms of CO2 emissions, water consumption, land footprint and tailings management.

PhiTrust, chaired by Olivier de Guerre, has various fund products. Its corporate governance-led Proxy Active Investors Sicav is a collaboration with Proxinvest while it has teamed up with the Ethos Foundation for its Euro Active Investors mutual fund.
Last month a shareholder resolution calling for BP to assess its operations in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill last year was dropped.