Despite a tough economic climate, French energy producer Total managed to weather the storm by focusing on global exploration and production while reducing capacity in its refining, marketing, trading, shipping, and chemicals segments.

Like many of its peers, Total is pursuing opportunities in alternative energy: Last year, the company contracted with MIT to develop an efficient, low-cost, long-life battery to store solar energy. Total also helped build France's second European Pressurized Reactor, a nuclear reactor that is potentially less vulnerable to severe accidents and attacks than today's versions.