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Total CEO warns of world riddled with uncertainties that could hold back investment

The chief executive of French oil giant Total has warned on a world full of uncertainty that is bad for businesses and could threaten new investments in the industry.

"Today what I face is many uncertainties ," Patrick Pouyanné told CNBC at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

"We are waiting to see what the foreign policy of (President-elect) Donald Trump will be, clearly Brexit and there is huge uncertainty over the future of Europe and how you deal with such a country outside of the European Union.

"Plus of course in the Middle East, Iran is back because of the agreement last year - it involved many difficulties around. So there is much uncertainty."


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Pouyanné, however, was largely positive on the incoming U.S. administration with Trump detailing his love for the energy industry and hydrocarbons on the campaign trail. The Total CEO predicted that Trump would be willing to "not put too much" regulation in order to help investment in energy but cautioned that there was a difference between "what you say and when you are in power" with regards to Trump.

"We will see," he added.

"It's very difficult today to tell you what will happen and I suspect it will take some months. Because I suspect that it's not only if President Trump came to office next Friday, you still have the full administration to put in place before we understand the full policies so it will take time."

Pouyanné explained that the industry was entering into six to nine months of uncertainty.

"It's not good for business because what business wants is predictability you know, if you are to invest, if you want to take decisions in energy you invest for 20 years, you need to have clear frameworks so that is the main risk for us."

The Total CEO was also bullish on the U.S. gas industry with his company holding some exposure in the market. He suggested that under Trump, the fiscal incentives which have been planned for renewables could maybe diminish.

"Renewables have made progress ... I think there will be some debate between the Congress, the president. So we will see what the outcome will be of all that," he said.

"But I'm positive, I think the U.S. economy is already strong. So I don't know if Mr. Trump will be able to do it stronger but it seems that it is his vision but we will see what he is doing exactly."

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