Totally Lost

Via reader Gavin Longmuir, this:

Total SA has joined Royal Dutch Shell PLC in withdrawing from American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers because of disagreement about polices on climate change.

In a report on integrating climate with strategy, the company said it reviewed 30 industry associations to which it belongs “to verify that their stances on climate issues are aligned with the group’s.”

Total Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Patrick Pouyanne also cited the Paris agreement, stating, “Our policy regarding industry associations demonstrates our consistency and credibility. Transparency will strengthen the action of businesses, which are key participants in discussions on how to achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement.”

Now it might be the case that Patrick Pouyanne believes capitulating to climate activists is the best way to safeguard the interests of Total’s shareholders. It might also be that he’s chiefly concerned about how he is perceived by France’s political elite, having realised his nest is well-feathered regardless of what happens to Total in the long term. I don’t know. But I found this interesting:

Total has suspended all activities on a planned $3.5bn crude export pipeline from Uganda to Tanzania due to uncertainty over its Uganda operation.

The 1,445km pipeline was planned to pass through neighbouring Tanzania to the Indian Ocean port of Tanga.

The decision follows last week’s termination of the farm-down transaction between Tullow Oil, Total E&P and CNOOC.

All parties have been actively progressing the sale and purchase agreement (SPA) since 2017. However, the companies did not reach an agreement on the fiscal treatment of the transaction despite negotiations with the authorities.

Total’s Ugandan development has been going nowhere pretty much from the beginning, and word on the street that the Frenchmen they sent to negotiate with the government – including the CEO – might as well have been random farmers plucked from the fields of Normandy. So if I may make a helpful suggestion to Total’s senior management, perhaps it’s better to reacquire the necessary skills and expertise to develop oil and gas reserves rather than waste company resources in meeting the objectives of the laughably self-serving, corrupt, and ultimately pointless Paris Climate Agreement?


40 thoughts on “Totally Lost

  1. i read a book by a martial art expert who now trains and leads incident teams in high security prisons. the biggest thing that stuck with me was his advice: if someone threatens you and says come quietly and we can avoid unpleasantness, you need to scream and fight. once they take you somewhere of their own devising you will be bereft of protection and utterly vulnerable. abductees who fight survive, those who comply are dug up years later

    anyway allowing greens to dictate the terms of debate and going along for an easy life. not smart.

  2. My last firm had priced a lot of work on that pipeline and were hopeful of snagging some work on it, from memory it was the only decent bit of work on the horizon in East Africa. I also priced work for Total’s Tilenga Upstream Project in Uganda which was being run by Fluor out of the UK. I guess that will be shelved now as well. That’s quite a lot of cost, effort and hopes blown if that is the case.

    Total are involved in the huge PNG LNG project along with Exxon Mobil, the start up of which has been problematic, which is the norm for PNG. Its a different kettle of fish but it will be interesting to see how it all pans out after Total’s recent announcements. By all accounts Total is committed to the project although the PNG Govt are trying to squeeze more out of Exxon Mobil.

  3. A whole string of “woke” company announcements this week. Must be something in the air.

    Try the suspension of the shares of Pure Circle Ltd, producers of stevia, an artificial sweetener. Read the website and they are as woke as you can imagine. But peruse the financials and you wonder how they were ever signed off for the last 3 years. They held stock at about 80% of annual turnover and carried debtors at about 40% of turnover…. In other words it took about a year and a half to convert production into cash? Simply not sustainable for the average company.

    Then there is Veltyco (VLTY) which is clearly insolvent. 95p to 1.5p in two years, thank God it had a female CEO to demonstrate the benefits of boardroom diversity for some of that period. Incidentally that CEO Ms. Blau earned 220,000 Euro for just seven months work so did a great job of closing the Gender Pay Gap.

  4. Lol – I get an ad saying “celebrating diversity at work – learn about diversity and inclusion at Npower”. Do the algorithms know too much or too little?

  5. @Graeme


    I know that you have to do your own dd on investments but I always feel for the poor old retail investor that normally doesn’t get out early enough and ends up taking the biggest haircut in these situations. Not nice if you had a decent chunk of your pension or life savings in them and downright awful if the deteriorating performance was undisclosed. Just goes to show that you should always be diversified.

    I held IBM shares and got continuous Ginni Rometty their CEO nonsense interviews popping up on my yahoo finance feed, glad I sold them now, especially when I see how destructive these sheilas can be for your net worth. Some things and business will always be a mans world.

    On a brighter note, one of mine went into a trading halt today and announced a capital raising, this can go either way and you just have to wear it when they do it. I think its good one though according to Dr Ben Greene their CEO. They are ex-military spooks, do a lot of hush hush defence contracting and are very big in the anti-drone tech and also outer space, space. They track and sell info on the location of space debris and can actually move it out of the way if you need a clear orbit with high energy laser beam located on earth! No joke.

    The best bit of all is that they said in their announcement today that the counter drone market, which these guys are world leaders in, will exceed the market for weapon systems by 2022!

    I think and hope that we will get a pop in price when trading resumes tomorrow.

    EOS Announcement – Upgraded FY2020 guidance and capital raising

  6. “They track and sell info on the location of space debris and can actually move it out of the way if you need a clear orbit with high energy laser beam located on earth! No joke.”

    {insert extreme scepticism here}

  7. Its true Nick.

    Outer space is where its at these days, admittedly its hard to put a value on this new frontier, but its white hot from an investment perspective. This firm have two offerings in the space sector, debris management and space communications with a major announcement about a relationship with a space authority anticipated shortly and given their history with the US Military I wouldn’t be surprised if its with NASA.

    EOS being an early mover on the growing space debris problem is a bloody good idea, its becoming a huge issue, next time you are up there have a look around you. They can also slow down debris with their high energy laser beam technology such that it changes orbit radius and eventually reenters the atmosphere and combusts. You dont want to break the debris up as then it becomes many problems and the smaller the size of the debris the harder it is to track.


    “it was the prime contractor in the United States for the US Army’s Next Generation’s Weapons Systems, acting as the developer and provider of those systems for approximately 15 years.'”

    Space debris is man-made material in Earth orbit which no longer serves any useful purpose. Debris objects vary in size from expired satellites as large as a motor car, to microscopic fragments from spacecraft disintegration. Current scientific consensus is that there are around 500,000 pieces of space debris larger than 1 cm in Earth orbit. Travelling at 30,000km per hour, space junk as small as 1cm will severely damage or destroy an operating satellite on impact. The threat to current and future satellites is significant and growing.

    Our expanding network of space sensors provides accurate, specialised catalogues for assessing collision risk in real time. Conjunction analysis is performed continuously, and the sensor network is re-tasked in real time to allow timely collision prediction using orbit errors smaller than 100m.

    In some cases it is not possible to manoeuvre a satellite to avoid a near-certain collision. For these circumstances EOS is currently fielding a new type of laser tracker which can deliver sufficient laser power to move certain types of space debris to new orbits to avoid collision. This system cannot damage or fragment debris, but rather provides harmless radiation pressure to move the debris over many seconds of engagement.

  8. I would much rather invest with and partner up with a bloke like Dr Greene. A consummate professional that is passionate about his work and has $40m of his own skin in the game, than some sheila that came from nothing, has nothing and only knows about the companies anti-slavery policies.


    Question: But I would note that talking to you and to your staff and looking at your enterprise, as a whole is like a trip back into time for me in one key sense – you have a very lean operation and you are not afraid to test and fail.

    It is like going back into time in the 1970s and 1980s in the United States.

    How does it feel to be both a time capsule and a key driver for 21stcentury innovation?

    Dr. Greene: I would tend to agree with the sentiment, The processes that we operate here are a linear extension of the process that we developed jointly and in complete harmony with the US during the ’60s and ’70s and ’80s.

    And those processes were very efficient.

    We’re talking about a development process for advanced technology that was aggressive. It was well risk mitigated. It had woven into it an integrated operational concept.

    The red team analysis was at the table through every design review, so the entire design process was red teamed continuously, not at the end.

    The processes are not risk averse.

    They are risk mitigated.

    We have never been risk averse, but every time we fall over, we have to recover very quickly.

    And so I think one thing that we still have, which I see missing in some parts of the world, is that tremendous technological aggression that the US had in the ’70s and ’80s.

    And I’m not saying it’s not there now.

    It’s just not as evident, and I think it’s muted by a lot more administrative process now than it was previously.

    And we haven’t been encumbered by that here.

  9. “Total said it is keeping its membership in the American Chemistry Council, American Petroleum Institute, and Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, climate positions of which are “partially aligned” with its own, but issued a warning. “Total would reconsider its memberships in the event of lasting divergences,” it said.”

    It is totally incomprehensible for the head of a fossil fuel producer to support politically-motivated Junk Science which is targeting shutting down his company. But apart from that, this announcement leaves me conflicted.

    On the one hand, Total can spend its money on whatever it wants, and if it choses not to subscribe to various industry associations, that is Total’s decision.

    On the other hand, there is something very distasteful about strutting around saying ‘Nice industry association you have there. It would be a pity if something happened to it’ — even if it is said in a French accent.

    I guess the mistake Total’s CEO has made is to go public with his threats. The message for the rest of us is that any pronouncements from industry associations supporting the Climate Change scam have to be seen for what they are — frightened lies extorted by ‘Woke” oil industry executives.

  10. The message should be, go woke go broke. The need for oil will outlive Greta Thunberg.

    And just for Bardon’s benefit, I was giving examples of go woke go broke. I have no stake in Pure nor Veltyco.

    But I am glad not to have shares in a company selling lasers on sharks

  11. “Space junk. It’s a big problem so what are we doing about it?”

    There’s been considerable talk, of late, of collecting it & using it. It is, after all, bits of spacecraft made of what spacecraft are made of. So it could be regarded as the raw material for building spacecraft. If you can collect enough of it & process it. In which case it’d be worth a fortune. The cost of the DeltaV was expended getting it into orbit in the first place. It’d be worth a packet even if you just ground it up & used it as reaction mass in some form of drive.
    Sorry Bardon but the idea of using ground based lasers to clear it sounds like poor sci-fi. What do you think they’re going to do? Vaporise it? The amount of energy required to vaporise a sizeable piece of space junk would be horrendous. In the multi-megawatts. The big lasers they’ve been developing to target ICBMs on their partial orbit trajectories only punch holes in them. To vaporise something you’d have to put all the energy in a very short period. Order of microseconds. If you don’t & partially vaporise it, the ejecta’s going to act like a rocket motor. Action & reaction. Most likely you’ll set it spinning because the chances of your beam intersecting its centre of mass are virtually zero. And it’ll likely acquire acceleration along some vector. But you won’t have a clue what the vector will be because that’ll depend on which direction the ejecta goes in & the centre of mass of the object. Whatever, you can’t just push an object by firing a laser at it. Sounds like someone’s using the analogy of pushing something with a fire hose. A laser isn’t a fire hose. The beam has no mass. The mass comes from the object the beam intersects.

  12. Note to self.

    In the vastness of space and the immensity of time, it is my joy to share a planet and an epoch with Annie. To celebrate in this success in space I must gift her with some EOS shares, at the now discounted price to existing shareholders of $6.66.

    And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.

    It is because of the great deeds and foresight of people like me, that others may stop and change a tyre in their spacecraft without the risk of being killed by Russian space debris.


    Innocent driver gets hit by space debris

  13. Tim,

    I agree with your comments about Total and climate change. More generally, I think that plans to decarbonise the UK economy by 2050 are insanity. It cannot realistically be done with current technology. Add in the tendency of British government projects to screw up, and I think we could easily end up in a very bad place indeed. As in in an eighteenth century society with no energy infrastructure.

    But how are we going to stop it? Who’s opposed to the climate change agenda? A few self-funded bloggers. And who’s in favour of it? Just about everyone else: all western governments, all mainstream western political parties, the mainstream media, government bureaucracies and the corporations – even those, incredibly, involved with the production of fossil fuels.

  14. “Sorry Bardon but the idea of using ground based lasers to clear it sounds like poor sci-fi. What do you think they’re going to do? Vaporise it?”

    No you didn’t watch the video did you? They will use the laser to apply radiation pressure for a brief moment or photon pressure if that helps. This will slow it down by 0.1mm/sec, with the resulting reduced velocity decreasing its orbital radius by 200m.

    Not forgetting that being a defence contractor they have a lot of restrictions on what they can disclose and they are also very protective of their IP, so dont expect a published schematic to ever hit the market.

    There is nothing wrong with your healthy skepticism though, as it’s been over one hundred years since we split the atom. If you dont accept it, then that is fine but you gotta admit that their anti-drone offering is a stonking big fat cash cow.

    For mine, I think their defense capability is as sound as a pound and would stand up to any other growth type businesses in its own right. Their space offerings being debris management and space communication is the icing on the cake and should be the one that launches me into the space sector, Richard Branson isn’t the only one getting a slice of the action.

    Its early days for EOS in the commercial space sector, although they have been involved in the military space sector since the sixties, they have the track record and the conviction to pull something big off here. Thy have a huge and burgeoning addressable market in space, have today confirmed that they have sufficient working capital to complete their launch pad for take off, which give this stock all the hallmarks of becoming a multibagger in the fullness of time.


    The Race to Invest in the Space Economy

  15. They will use the laser to apply radiation pressure for a brief moment or photon pressure if that helps. This will slow it down by 0.1mm/sec, with the resulting reduced velocity decreasing its orbital radius by 200m.

    Stuff in orbit is constantly subject to photon pressure of approx 1KW/m². Sunlight. 24/7/365. If it was that simple, solar radiation would blow it out past the orbit of Pluto

  16. And some numbers: LEO velocity is around 8km/sec. What vector are your guys applying their 0.1mm/sec? Applied retrograde to the orbit, that would indeed reduce the orbit altitude. By several metres. But you’d need your laser in orbit to achieve that. You could get a degree of retrograde acceleration from the ground by applying the pulse when the target was coming up over the horizon, but you’d also be traversing the maximum of the atmosphere. With maximum attenuation of your beam. Targeting when the object is vertically over the earth’s surface doesn’t change the average orbital velocity. It raises the orbit at that point with a corresponding lower perigee on the other half of the orbit. Orbital ellipsis would eventually have the perigee in atmosphere dense enough to bring it down but that would take a lot more than 0.1mm/sec. Otherwise you just have your object traversing more of the useful LEO toroid than it was before.

  17. It also occurs, you’ve just made your space junk problem worse than it was before. The actual problem is differences in orbital velocity causing collisions. The bulk of stuff in LEO is orbiting in the same direction the earth rotates at around that 8km/sec. By definition. The differences are due to inclination of orbits & degree of ellipsis. If everything was in an equatorial circular orbit there wouldn’t be a problem. No orbits would intersect You just added to the ellipsis & no doubt the inclination unless your laser’s directly under the target

  18. “If you don’t & partially vaporise it, the ejecta’s going to act like a rocket motor. Action & reaction. ”

    See, now that raises a concern about the recoil on these laser thingys. Couldn’t they upset the earth’s rotation and/or orbit? Asking for a friend.

  19. I am a scientific ignoramus but does this discussion imply that force is not as simple as mass times acceleration, given that a laser beam has no mass and, by virtue of that equation, cannot exert a force? I can understand that it is full of energy and can heat things but to convert that to kinetic energy (mass times the square of velocity)?

  20. “And some numbers: LEO velocity is around 8km/sec. What vector are your guys applying their 0.1mm/sec?”

    See some info below, as I said before there is an element of IP protection here and I aint the boffin that is nudging this debris in space either. I think the best thing to do here is to wait and see what comes out of their imminent trial, I would expect that to be published.

    If there are some setbacks, then that would not be a surprise either, it comes with the territory. I am confident that they have a very sustainable and growing in demand business model, all of their costs to date are sunk, the recent capital raise provides them with the ability to develop a commercial solution.

    Lets not forget that 90% of their business is unmanned weaponry and now anti-drone measures, they recently acquired EMS* a space communication firm which gives them a very solid and promising immediate space communication capability, leaving space debris tracking and removal as the obvious new growth area. I am sure that you would agree that if they have a breakthrough in this sector then it will be transformational for this small innovative company with a current market cap of AUD $669m (nearly the mark of the beast again), potentially increasing its market cap many times over.

    Their comparable companies are the likes of General Dynamics and BAE Systems which are orders of magnitude larger in size, this firm is tiny, has higher margins and the potential to make its shareholders huge windfalls. Which is something that I am prepared to risk my hard earned in, nothing is ever certain in innovative businesses like this, I could easily write a list of things that could go wrong for them, but fortune favours the bold.


    As an example: for an object at 500km altitude the orbital velocity is over 7000 m/s. Over a 24 hour period this requires a change in orbital velocity of approximately 1 mm/s to open up a 100m change in position (along track) along the orbit.

    See schematic here:×576.jpg

    *Electro Optic Systems (ASX: EOS) has agreed to acquire space communications company EM Solutions Pty Limited (EMS), a leading Australian technology company in the field of microwave satellite communications. EMS is based in Brisbane.

    EMS will form part of EOS Communication Systems.

    EOS recently announced (30 September 2019) that it had achieved a number of advances which together enable next-generation optical communication to and from space at bandwidths up to 20 times higher than microwave technology, and at lower cost. However, the company has long recognised that over $400 billion is currently invested in microwave communication infrastructure in space, and that this sunk cost and the all-weather capabilities of microwave technology will ensure a long-term role for microwave technology in space communications.

    EMS is a world leader in on-the-move satellite communications. It is a major provider of satellite communication systems for the Australian Defence Force, including Royal Australian Navy ships, and has been widely recognised for its advanced technology, winning awards such as the Essington Lewis Trophy (2018) Department of Defence SME Team of the Year, for innovation in defence communication.

    EMS’ on-the-move radio and satellite products deliver high speed telecommunications anywhere in the world to its customers. It is a trusted provider of secure and resilient communications for key customers such as defence forces and government agencies internationally.

  21. Desert Sun; come for the blog posts, stay for the internal conversation going on in Bardon’s head

    So that’s why there wasn’t a “SKIP ADS” button. Makes sense now.

  22. @Graeme

    Radiation pressure

    Force on a reflector results from reflecting the photon flux
    Radiation pressure is the pressure exerted upon any surface due to the exchange of momentum between the object and the electromagnetic field. This includes the momentum of light or electromagnetic radiation of any wavelength which is absorbed, reflected, or otherwise emitted (e.g. black-body radiation) by matter on any scale (from macroscopic objects to dust particles to gas molecules).[1][2][3]

    The forces generated by radiation pressure are generally too small to be noticed under everyday circumstances; however, they are important in some physical processes. This particularly includes objects in outer space where it is usually the main force acting on objects besides gravity, and where the net effect of a tiny force may have a large cumulative effect over long periods of time. For example, had the effects of the sun’s radiation pressure on the spacecraft of the Viking program been ignored, the spacecraft would have missed Mars’ orbit by about 15,000 km (9,300 mi).[4] Radiation pressure from starlight is crucial in a number of astrophysical processes as well. The significance of radiation pressure increases rapidly at extremely high temperatures, and can sometimes dwarf the usual gas pressure, for instance in stellar interiors and thermonuclear weapons.

    The radiation pressure of sunlight on earth is equivalent to that exerted by about a thousandth of a gram on an area of 1 square metre (measured in units of force: approx. 10 μN/m2).

  23. Thanks Bardon…. But this all verges on bullshit. I can understand solar propulsion, but this is about feeble forces (from Wikipedia), like watching a curling match

    “Solar radiation pressure on objects near the earth may be calculated using the sun’s irradiance at 1 AU, known as the solar constant or GSC, whose value is set at 1361 W/m2 as of 2011.”

    This is surely not going to destroy a gall stone

  24. Bardon. The company you’re advertising may have some reason for building fuck-off great lasers. One can imagine a few. And one can well believe they might like people to believe they’re for clearing near earth space of orbital debris. But they’re not going to be doing that from the ground. The orbital dynamics are wrong. To accelerate something along its orbit you’d need to give it a push with something at a tangent to the orbit. From behind it would increase the object’s velocity & it would rise into a higher orbit. Keep doing it & it gets escape velocity & heads off into deep space. From in front it would decrease its velocity & lower its orbit. Keep doing it & it drops into the atmosphere & burns up.
    But you”re company is talking about doing it at 90degrees.
    Let’s try & explain. Let’s say you stood on the outside of the ISS & threw a ball straight away from the earth towards the stars. Where would it go? The answer is, all other things being equal, it would hit you in back of the head half an orbit later. You do not change the average orbital altitude of the ball by throwing it up. If you wish to throw it up, you throw it in the direction the ISS is orbiting. It then rises to a higher orbit
    The same is true throwing it at the earth. It still hits you in the head.

  25. “one can well believe they might like people to believe they’re for clearing near earth space of orbital debris”

    And aint that the truth.

  26. If everything was in a circular orbit there would surely be no collisions at all, equatorial or not. Or rather any potential collisions would happen on the first orbit.

  27. How about some blogging Tim?
    “A man should make his mission central, not his woman, however nice she is…”

  28. Graeme
    “I am a scientific ignoramus but does this discussion imply that force is not as simple as mass times acceleration, given that a laser beam has no mass and, by virtue of that equation, cannot exert a force?”

    You can propel a spacecraft with a solar sail, so a laser can exert some force that perhaps is significant enough to alter it’s ‘static’ orbit. The goal, I imagine, would be to disturb the orbit enough to set it on a path that sees it re-enter the atmosphere and burn up.

    There is very little chance of this working on whole satellites, but if your talking about gram particles then it would work. Quite how you get the targeting and laser resolution working tight enough at 500km will be the challenge, along with the power.

  29. bloke in spain

    “Bardon. The company you’re advertising may have some reason for building fuck-off great lasers. ”

    The problem with the business is how do they get paid? Regardless of the need for it, it’s a commons problem that no single operator will want to fund and doesn’t need to fund. Regardless of the technical challenge, the business challenge is greater.

    Unless the goal is global blackmail with the fuck-off great lasers….that is more sensible.

  30. “How about some blogging Tim?”

    Maybe a post on the tremendous start up to the summer of test cricket, there is plenty to write about.

    Warner’s Lazarus like come back on his first appearance at home since sentencing, are the Australian attack the best in the world or will Santer sustain or sizzle and be the wonder boy of the summer?

  31. “Solar radiation pressure on objects near the earth may be calculated using the sun’s irradiance at 1 AU, known as the solar constant or GSC, whose value is set at 1361 W/m2 as of 2011.”

    Solar CONSTANT (???), specified in all the models to the nearest 1 Watt per square meter (aka ‘tickle’) — even though we can look up at the sky and see the Sun today has virtually no sunspots, while we have to look in old encyclopedias to find photos of the Sun dotted with sunspots. Obviously, changes in the Sun have an effect on solar irradiance reaching the Earth — but the smart guys blithely assume GSC is constant in their models which so reliably predict Doom!

    This is what is so difficult to understand about the Anthropogenic Global Warming scam. One does not have to have a PhD in Astrophysics to understand that some of the critical assumptions simply do not pass the smell test. Yet too many of the Best & Brightest actually seem to believe this junk science. I would be happier if I knew they were simply lying.

  32. The only question remaining unanswered, will the English medias call for Joe Roots head on a platter be granted?

  33. I believe that Tim has been abducted by an alien, thus the long silence. I believe also that this particular alien possesses enormous amounts of pulchritude, thus more silence can be expected.

  34. All is not lost for the dejected poms in New Zealand with Oxford educated Dr Highnammaking his mark in the world from the headquarters of his asx listed Wellington office, in the publishing of his firms study into breast cancer screening in the New England Journal of Medicine today.

    Well done sir and a great result for the woman of the world.

    It is expected that the US FDA will recognize the studied methodology that his firm are using will as worlds best practice in the early detection and prevention of breast cancer.

  35. The comments section today is unusually bizarre.

    I don’t think I ever realised how important a regular post by Tim was in moving the conversation along before everything got really surreal.

    Also: Bardon is starting to sound like a Bond villain.

  36. @JS

    The really weird thing is how Tim’s posts are often at a somewhat askew angle to the original story he has picked up on, and then by the time the comments have rumbled on a bit, they have inevitably branched off into all kinds of side-lines, often quite “off-topic” from the source material. So you might think that an open set of threads could just trundle along under its own momentum without too much input from our gracious host. But on the contrary, it seems we really do need him to throw us some stimulatory nuggets to keep things fresh and churn things up a bit.

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