How did the idea for planete-energies.com come about and what is its target or targets?
Klidja Krouri: The site dates back to 2005. It was set up as an initiative by a Group employee, a press atta-ché and technical adviser who, in 2004, was working on an exhibition presented by Total at the Cité des Sci-ences et de l'Industrie (the public science and industry museum in Paris). He noticed over the 7-8 months of the exhibition that many children and teachers had lots of questions to ask. The exhibition came to an end after eight months and he came up with the idea of setting up a website on oil and energy in general. The Group agreed to pursue the idea and set up the first version of planete-energies.com!
The original purpose of the site was highly educational. Was it to demystify the subject of energy, or was there a real appetite to educate?
Jean-François Minster: Yes, the essence of this site is educational. We are keen to give some explanations on the tremendously complex subject of energy. Starting with oil and gas, our business.
K.K.: Of course, even those where Total is not a player. That said, the Group has greatly diversified in recent years. We remain a global player in oil and gas, but also in solar and photovoltaic energy.
J.F.M.: I'd like to say that Total is working on significant technological developments to do with energy that do not yet have the visibility of oil, gas or solar. I'm thinking of biomass, smart-grids, batteries, hydrogen and others. This gives us many technological skills and the ability to understand many of the aspects of energy.
The specificity of Total is to be knowledgeable about technology, but also production, needs, the market and costs. And as Total sells and distributes, we know a lot about the needs and habits of consumers around the world. The issue of energy is not only confined to production. I would even say that the transformation that the energy sector is undergoing, is taking place first and foremost on the side of users and their habits.
K.K.: Ultimately, we are qualified to speak about energy without trying to impose a point of view. We have particular perspectives, a variety of viewpoints that we share and discuss. It is this approach that, it seems to us, enables children to become citizens.
Have the questions and expectations changed over the last 10 years?
K.K.: Yes, at least in two aspects. The first is that very quickly we had to deal with energy in the broadest sense and not just hydrocarbons. This wish was expressed by our users. The second is climate change, which has clearly become a "driver" of the information asked of us.
J.F.M.: This is quite understandable. The citizen-consumer today needs responses to these questions and the energy companies have a key role to play, both technological and economic.
How are different subjects dealt with?
KK: The Editorial Board, composed of experts from other energy companies, teachers and energy institutions, and chaired by Jean-François Minster, meets twice a year.
It helps set the broad guidelines and structure the work for the six months to come. Our experts help define our take on the topics and redirect them if necessary. Then, with a journalist, we create the articles, which must work on several levels depending on the age and knowledge of our readership.
J.F.M.: Klidja, the process you describe in no way prevents us from covering current events. I have in mind the example of our coverage of the nuclear question, which came out to coincide with the resumption of nu-clear power operations in Japan after Fukushima. We needed to include and explain the specific Japanese context. It is this work of putting issues into perspective that is so important on planete-energies.com.
I would add that we open forums for sharing all viewpoints, including those of opponents, such as certain environmental NGOs. We are convinced that openness and the multiplicity of views creates credibility.
What are your ambitions?
J.F.M.: [smiling] To make planete-energies.com the reference site for education on energy!
K.K.: Increasing international openness. Everything is global when it comes to energy: markets, prices, production. We therefore have to approach the subject on a global scale. Our last report, which offers a breakdown of COP21, is a good example. We want more international experts to join our Editorial Board.
We're working on this as we speak!
Interview, October 7, 2015