Elf Aquitaine

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Group.png Elf Aquitaine  
ELF logo 2004-2012.png
HeadquartersParis, France
LeaderElf Aquitaine/CEO
InterestsDGSS, Françafrique, de Gaulle, seven sisters
SubpageElf Aquitaine/CEO
Elf was a centerpiece of French neocolonial practices in Africa: influence peddling, corruption, violence, political manipulation, etc.

Elf Aquitaine is a former petroleum company which merged with TotalFina in year 2000 to form TotalFinaElf, after its activities received to much attention. The new company changed its name to Total in 2003 and currently TotalEnergies in 2021. Elf has only been maintained as a major brand of motor oil since then.


Elf was the result of the political will on the part of General de Gaulle[1], and was intended to ensure the “greatness” of France in Africa despite decolonization, and to maintain French access to the strategic resource oil.

Elf was a company controlled mainly by the state (it remained so until its takeover-merger by Total-Fina in 2000), and de Gaulle appointed his former Minister of the Armies Pierre Guillaumat, who was one of the founders of the ruthless intelligence service Direction générale des services spéciaux (DGSS) as the company's head[2]. This contributes to making the company an “intelligence agency”, in the words of one of his successors: “nothing is happening in the oil-producing countries, in particular in Africa, whose origin is not not Elf”.[3]

Elf is considered to be a centerpiece of French neocolonial practices in Africa: influence peddling, corruption, violence, political manipulation, etc.[4]

The Elf Affair in 1994 partly unveiled this disturbing aspect of the oil group: witness the book by magistrate Eva Joly[5], who investigated the case, and the documentary play “Elf, the pump Africa” by Nicolas Lambert, which reproduced the trial.

The denunciation of this kind of deep state diplomacy, known as “Françafrique” is also an issue for the Survie association. The work of this association tries to show that the plundering of natural resources and the diversion of French official development assistance (ODA) are responsible for the ills that plague Africa. The Elf Aquitaine company is particularly singled out by them.


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  1. François-Xavier Verschave, La Françafrique, Le plus long scandale de la république, Stock, 1998, p.139.
  2. Hervé Gattegno, « L’étrange interpénétration des services d’Elf et de la France », Le Monde, 28 septembre 1997.
  3. La « confession » de Loïc Le Floch-Prigent, in l’Express du 12 décembre 1996.
  4. https://www.monde-diplomatique.fr/2018/08/DENEAULT/58987 or http://archive.wikiwix.com/cache/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.monde-diplomatique.fr%2F2018%2F08%2FDENEAULT%2F58987
  5. Eva Joly, Est-ce dans ce monde-là que nous voulons vivre ? Les Arènes, 2003.