French oil boss stresses strikes cause for concern

16th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

The chairman of the French oil company Total acknowledged Friday that French strikes which have blocked refineries was cause for concern but suggested the group had at least a week's worth of stocks in hand.

"Of course it is causing us worry," Christophe de Margerie told reporters as the World Policy Conference kicked off in Marrakech, Morocco.

"If I could open the taps and solve all of the French problems, I would be very happy," he added.

Asked if Total had enough reserves to ensure supplies for two weeks, he replied: "Ask me that next week."

De Margerie stressed he did not want to participate "in something that fosters fear".

"It is not an oil crisis, it is not a supply crisis, it is a question of pensions."

France has been gripped by widespread strikes that have shut Total's refineries in the country as unions and students protest a government plan to raise the official retirement age from 60 years to 62.

"Let's not mix up pensions and oil," de Margerie said.

"That unions have decided to use petroleum products, and thus supplies, to bring pressure to bear, ask them why."

© 2010 AFP

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