President & CEO of Total Petrochemicals & Refining USA.
Country Chair for Total in the United States.
Total has made a series of ambitious investments in the Houston region – most recently with the purchase of Woodlands-based Anadarko’s African LNG assets from Oxy and the construction with partners of two new petrochemical units.
Vincent Stoquart, a Belgian native who joined Total 21 years ago, recently arrived in Houston to take the helm of Total Petrochemicals & Refining USA, Inc.
He is also Country Chair of Total in the United States. He is therefore the face of the French global energy major, which is present across the entire energy value chain and has clear ambitions to take advantage of favorable market conditions and a strong pool of local talent to further grow its business.
You very recently moved to Houston to become Country Chair of Total in the U.S. What are your first impressions of the city?
Vincent Stoquart: I moved to Houston in August so I am still in the discovery stage, but I would say I have been struck by how welcome people make you feel here. Another first impression is the constant buzz in the city. It is a very dynamic and growing business environment. Things move at a fast pace. You see it in the energy industry and of course in the rest of the city with home construction and all types of road works everywhere. On a more personal note, it’s been a great relocation for my family. I am happy to offer my kids the possibility to live in a truly multicultural environment and attend a school that will give them the best of the American culture while keeping a connection with our francophone roots. I am a Belgian working for a French company in the United States, so this diverse background is important to me.
Total has been very active in the United States in recent years with a series of acquisitions and big projects. What is Total’s strategy in the United States?
V.S: It’s a very exciting time for Total in the U.S. Our company has been present in this country since the 1950s, but we have substantially increased our investments in the last four years.
We made acquisitions in cleaner energy fuels and in liquefied natural gas (LNG). We are on track to become the largest exporter of U.S. LNG by end 2020. Upstream, we took the operatorship of our Barnett shale gas asset, and we have several projects in the Gulf of Mexico. Downstream, we are expanding our petrochemicals business in Texas with two important projects built with partners in Port Arthur and Pasadena.
We now also have representative offices in Washington D.C. and San Francisco. With a footprint in more than 20 states, we can truly say that we are present from sea to shining sea!
Total says it wants to become the responsible energy major in the world. How do you translate this ambition in Texas and the rest of the country
V.S: Our ambition is to provide reliable and clean energy to as many people as possible, and this focus on climate concerns is integral to our global strategy. Here in the U.S., we are growing our business in natural gas – the lowest-carbon fossil fuel. We expanded our LNG portfolio in the Gulf Coast region and invested in Clean Energy as part of our drive to develop new uses for natural gas.
TOTAL Port Arthur Refinery
We believe that plastics recycling also offers new opportunities for Total’s future. We have a Technology Center just outside Houston, in La Porte, where our engineers contribute to a worldwide innovation effort to produce thinner and stronger plastics to extend the lifetime of the products made with them. Hutchinson, a Total affiliate with a dozen lab and manufacturing sites across the United States, makes high-performance plastics for our customers in the auto and aerospace industry. By using lighter-weight plastic, we can help them reduce fuel consumption and, by extension, their carbon footprint.
As a major oil and gas employer, with a large footprint across the country, how do you drive your efforts regarding societal commitment?
V.S: At Total, we believe that growth can only be sustainable if it is shared. So, we strive to be a responsible employer for our 7,000 U.S. workforce. Many of our employees are based in or around Houston, and some of them have been with the company for more than 40 years. We see them as our greatest strength and genuinely care about them – through the good and the bad times, such as industry downturns or events like Harvey. We also help support the communities our employees work and live in. Right after I moved to Houston this summer, I joined 80 Total employees for a volunteering shift at the Houston Food Bank. We filled bags of food that at-risk kids receive in school to take home for the weekend.
I was very impressed by their state-of-the-art facility, which is huge, modern and organized like clockwork. This is one of several local organizations that we want to support because they make a real impact in the lives of Houstonians.
At the FACC, our mission is to help French SMEs and startups to develop their businesses in Texas. How do you work with these small businesses?
V.S: This is another aspect of our societal commitment. Our operations in the U.S. support small businesses near our facilities and create thousands of direct and indirect jobs. One of Total’s core values is Pioneer Spirit, so we support innovative businesses in several ways. Total Carbon Neutral Ventures, our venture capital arm in San Francisco, invests in start-ups developing innovative technologies and solutions that help companies reduce their energy consumption or the carbon intensity of their activities.
In Houston, we recently sponsored the Disruptive Energy Program, organized by Business France and start-up incubator The Cannon. Total typically supports these kinds of programs that strengthen French-American business relations and foster the development of applications and services around energy – leveraging Artificial Intelligence, modeling, machine learning and digitalization.
More information: www.total.com
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