What a pride to be part of what would become a major tricolor!
3 questions on your feeling about the merger of TOTALFINA and ELF...
What was your initial reaction to the announcement of the project?
At the time of the TotalFinaElf merger, I was at Elf, a "Blue" as we said at the time. I had just left Pau for the Congo - purely Elf stronghold! - as an engineer assigned to operations, maintenance. A year before the merger, the oil majors landscape was in turmoil with the merger of BP / Amoco and Exxon / Mobil. At Elf, we feared to be absorbed by an Anglo-Saxon group. So when I learned that we were going to merge with Total, I thought it was being eaten by smaller than me, and at the same time I felt pride in being part of what was going to become a major tricolor! I would add that the areas of the Globe covered by the two companies were very complementary, Elf being more present on a mainly north-south axis and Total East-West. This opened up new possibilities for expatriation!
What challenges did you anticipate that were easy to manage and, conversely, what were the unexpected difficulties that arose during the project?
In my mind, this merger would represent a challenge related to acclimatization between different teams, to new networks, etc. In fact, and from my experience since Congo, everything went smoothly, in a kind of continuity. What surprised me most and that I did not anticipate was certain aspects related to the corporate culture, the modes of operation. Just an example: at Elf, the internal procedures were mostly written in French, while they were in English at Total (yes, already!). Congo being a French-speaking country, the local teams were a little destabilized by this change and the arrival of new terms. It was no longer necessary to say "evasan" for medical evacuation, but "medevac" for a medical evacuation!
What is the most memorable memory you have of this period?
Some time after the merger, Thierry Desmarest, President of TotalFinaElf, visited us in Congo. The subsidiary being still very "Elf" in its habits, the merger advanced rather slowly being away from the seat. The program included a visit to the Djéno oil terminal, where the storage bins were still in Elf's colors. They were then repainted in fourth gear in the colors of the new group, which was not an easy task! The day Thierry Desmarest went to Pointe Noire, he finally did not have time to visit Djéno! All that for that, but at least we had a new painting!