Sylvia Pfeifer Gould scoops top prize from under the oil majors’ nose

Total’s top table was the place to be sitting at last night’s Oil and Money dinner at the Dorchester Hotel in London.

Delegates kept wandering past to congratulate Andrew Gould (right), the chairman and chief executive of Schlumberger, for being awarded the Petroleum Executive of the Year Award – the first service company to receive this award.

That was certainly not a point lost on Christophe de Margerie. The chairman and CEO of Total – and winner of the prize last year – was there to hand over the award to Mr Gould.

Firmly tongue in cheek, the personable Frenchman told the audience that he had had “a nightmare” the night before – namely that Total, “a major oil and gas company” had to give a prize to “a contractor”. How “embarrassing”.

Joking aside, de Margerie noted that, especially in the wake of BP’s Deepwater Horizon accident in the Gulf of Mexico, “we need each other”. Technology, he said, is key.

“We know more than ever that technology is of first importance and that technology needs to be shared,” he told the audience.

Mr Gould responded in kind, noting that some forty years ago he was actually offered a job by an oil company but didn’t want to work one. He echoed de Margerie, noting that “technology will be necessary to offset risk and cost” in the future.