Words by Janine Erasmus
Global fuel giant Total has expressed its commitment to investment in South Africa, and has unveiled the first of its new chain of sustainable service stations around the country and the region.
Located in Fairland, a suburb west of Johannesburg, the service station is part of a pilot programme running in just two other countries – Indonesia and Germany.
Dignitaries at the event included South African energy minister Dipuo Peters, and the MD and CEO of Total South Africa, Christian des Closieres.
“In two years’ time there will be many more of these advanced eco-friendly service stations,” said Des Closieres. “Total is changing the way it does business. For us, a service station is an experience for our customers, and an opportunity to interact with them.”
He added that the company is committed to its operations in Africa, and is also working hard to make those operations greener.
Within five years the sustainable service stations will be found in Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland.
“Total wants to grow in Africa. We are staying,” Des Closieres said.
Besides its commercial activities, Total has invested locally in a number of social responsibility projects, including the annual Arbour Week, and it is also the official fuel supplier for the South African National Parks authority.
South Africa is an integral component of the Total Group’s strategy, said Des Closieres, and the continent is of pivotal importance for its future growth and development.
He also emphasised Total’s understanding of the need for job creation in South Africa.
“We won’t be going the self-service route, it’s not appropriate here.”
Improving the lives of South Africans
“In the energy sector we constantly challenge ourselves to do better, to improve the lives of South Africans, especially the poorest of the poor,” said Peters, who was wearing red – Total’s main corporate colour – to mark the occasion.
“This includes improving the health and safety of the country’s 60 000 forecourt workers,” she said, pointing out that the new service station does just that through natural lighting, enhanced ventilation and double-walled underground tanks, which not only provide better protection but limit exposure to dangerous fumes.
The service station is packed with other eco-friendly features, including solar panels and energy-reducing glass for lower electricity consumption. In areas that are not constantly manned, motion sensors limit unnecessary lighting.
Its natural paint colours allow it to blend in pleasantly with the surroundings.
In the convenience shop Bonjour, floors are made from recycled material while outside the doors and elsewhere around the premises, garbage bins are divided into specific disposal sections for the recycling of paper, cans and glass.
The service station also boasts a water-harvesting facility that collects rainwater in underground tanks. This can then be used for the bathrooms or to water the plants and rinse off the forecourt floor.
Renewable-focused infrastructure was not only kind to the environment, said Peters, but it was also important for job creation through the manufacturing of components for the new format.
Total operates 530 service stations in South Africa, and supplies fuel not only to the automotive industry but also to the marine, aviation, agriculture and mining sectors.
The company launched its South African operations in the mid-1950s with service stations in Johannesburg and Pretoria as well as Roodepoort and Benoni to the west and east of Johannesburg respectively, and terminals in Isando near OR Tambo International Airport, and then-Lourenço Marques, now Maputo in Mozambique.