Total’s de Margerie Sees No Need for Dollars in Oil Purchases

Total SA Chief Executive Christophe de Margerie said he sees no reason for oil purchases to be made in dollars, adding that it makes sense to expand the use of other currencies in transactions outside the U.S.

“Nothing prevents anyone from paying for oil in euros,” de Margerie told journalists at the Cercle des Economistes conference in Aix-en-Provence, France. “The price of a barrel of oil is quoted in dollars. A refinery can take that price and using the euro-dollar exchange rate on any given day, agree to make the payment in euros.”

The remarks from the head of France’s largest oil company are the latest in a debate sparked by an $8.97 billion fine slapped by the U.S. on French bank BNP Paribas SA for transactions carried out in dollars in countries facing American sanctions.

French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said this week that the BNP fine raises questions about the reach of U.S. laws because the bank’s transactions were not illegal in Europe. Sapin said European countries should look for ways to use the euro more frequently and that he will raise the matter with fellow euro-area finance ministers when they meet in Brussels on July 7.

“Shouldn’t the euro be more important in the global economy?” Sapin asked journalists in Paris July 3. “We have to consider the weight of the dollar and the consequences of pricing things in dollars when it means that American law applies outside the U.S.”

De Margerie said today that Sapin’s view is coherent.

“Yes it makes sense,” he said.