Total's New Boss Says Europe Must Fight US Oil Export Ban

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The new head of Total challenged Europe to fight Washington over the US oil export ban, in his first public appearance since his predecessor.


LONDON, Oct 30 (Reuters) - The new head of French energy major Total challenged Europe to fight Washington over the U.S. oil export ban, in his first public appearance since his predecessor Christophe de Margerie was killed in a Moscow plane crash last week.

Patrick Pouyanne said on Thursday the export ban flouts free-trade agreements and puts European and Asian refiners at a disadvantage, making a bold appeal to European politicians.

"We need to fight and put this topic on the table," Pouyanne said during a sometimes emotional appearance at London's annual Oil & Money conference, where de Margerie had been a popular speaker over the years.

"I hope the European Commission raises this issue ... the refiners in Europe and Asia are suffering from one rule. That is the U.S. cannot export oil."

Painted by some as a quieter figure to lead Total by comparison with de Margerie - who was known as 'The Big Moustache' for his charisma, risk-taking, and elaborate facial hair - former refining head Pouyanne said he would keep the company on the course set by his predecessor.

But his pointed comments on U.S. policy, made during a near-45 minute long question and answer session that was met with a rare standing ovation, suggested he has inherited some of his flamboyant mentor's talent for controversy.

De Margerie was an outspoken critic of U.S. and European sanctions against countries like Russia and Iran, arguing business relations forge deeper ties between countries and increase understanding.


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