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Oil CEO cheers historic OPEC deal despite it impacting 'selfish' companies like his

  • Patrick Pouyanne, chief executive of oil giant Total, told CNBC on Wednesday that international oil markets were rebalancing.
  • "Frankly this discipline has worked," Pouyanne said. "But let's be clear. I think the market has also reacted, it's because of demand," he said.
Photo: Total

Patrick Pouyanne, chief executive of oil giant Total, told CNBC Wednesday that international oil markets were rebalancing thanks to the "historic" oil deal between OPEC and non-OPEC producers.

"Frankly this discipline has worked," Pouyanne said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. "But let's be clear. I think the market has also reacted, it's because of demand," he said.

Oil prices have risen steadily in recent months following a deal between OPEC and non-OPEC producers, including Russia, to curb oil output and thus boost prices. The strategy has worked with prices edging up toward the $70 a barrel level for Brent crude futures.

On Wednesday, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures hit $65 per barrel for the first time since December 2014. The high came after U.S. government data showed the 10th straight weekly drop in U.S. stockpiles of crude oil.

Pouyanne said the deal between OPEC and Russia was historic but said oil companies like his were "selfish" and didn't like output curbs.

"Companies like us are all selfish and we don't want to have a reduction of our production," he said.

Waving the flag

On Wednesday, French President Emmanuel Macron gave a speech in which he said "France is back," to applause from the audience of business leaders and politicians at Davos.

Pouyanne said Macron's positive image around the world was good for France and good for business.

"The rest of the world is looking to us and I think something has changed since President Macron was elected, it's like the image of the country has been renewed," he said.

"Also the reforms he's done, the two ones on the labor law and fiscal law are very important, and on the international scene I think he's trying to take a leading role."