‘French oil giant boss’ death won’t affect company’s viability’
RT:What does the death of Total's Chief Executive Officer mean to the global oil industry at a time when oil prices are at a low?
John Griffing: The core of your question underscores another point which is that de Margerie actually believed that the oil market was changing dramatically in moving away from dollars in invoicing, in transactions, to a more pluralistic global market place for oil and natural gas, which benefits Russia, America, all parties concerned. And that is what you are going to see, what de Margerie predicted, which is that the global market place will level a bit and move away from a dollar-denominated climate to something that looks a bit more akin to what is happening in the Middle East where you see more euro, more other currencies in place.
RT:How could thistragic eventimpact the company itself?
Bruno Drwesky, professor at the National Institute of Languages and Eastern civilisations said: "[The plane crash] will surely affect Total since Christophe de Margerie didn’t finish organizing his succession... The accident happened at a very bad moment for Total … There will be big consequences for Total of course, but also for the entire French economic world."
JG: I believe that the company will survive. Multinational corporations have a process in place for a death, as tragic as this death is. There is a process in place for a company to evolve, to continue to remain a global player. The big concern here in the US and in Western Europe is that we are seeing a reaction to something that de Margerie said, some have speculated that this is tragic and untimely death might be connected to these statements. I don’t think there is enough evidence for this at this time, but I would like to see the criminal investigation pursued by the Russian Federation executed to the fullest possible extent. We need to know if there is any criminal component that caused or resulted in the death of this man. It’s very important for global economic stability that we know what actually occurred.
RT:What actions should be taken now?
JG: We need to pursue a criminal investigation in the Western European Union, and, also, the US should assist in the efforts of Russia to identify any possible safety concerns in airports so that accidents of this nature are reduced in number and that we can go ahead and protect the stability of the global market place, especially at the time when the Ukrainian uprising has been calmed, and when things appear to be moving back in a more stable beneficial direction.
Bruno Drwesky, professor at the National Institute of Languages and Eastern civilisations said about next Total's CEO: "It is too early to tell [who will be the next Total’s CEO], there are some candidates who have appeared already but it is very difficult to know what will happen."
RT:Are there examples when a company's stock price fell after one of its top officials died?
JG: The death of the CEO at de Margerie’s level is a rare and odd occurrence, so I would compare this incident to the Exxon Valdez spill in the way it affected Exxon’s global price share for a time, I would compare this death to BP’s recent management – or mismanagement, some might say – of the Gulf spill. All of these things tend to impact temporarily and for a short time in an oil company and natural gas company’s price share. But that doesn’t tend to reflect on the long-term viability of the company or its ability to continue to be a force in the global market place. So I think you’ll see a turnaround pretty quickly in the absence of de Margerie. The company would be able to evolve, and we should be looking at ways to ensure that Total is continuingly integrated both into the global market place and that its projects in Russia go forward as planned.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.