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Richard Branson Gives Peak Oil Street Cred

Kirsten Korosec,
Peak oil has long suffered from a credibility problem. The food-hoarding, live-off-the grid survivalists scared the general public away from the legitimate debate surrounding the world’s oil supply with all of their conspiracy theories and worries about mutant urban cannibals. But Richard Branson, the well-coiffed billionaire and founder of Virgin Group has managed the impossible: turn what the mainstream considers an “extreme” view into something much more palatable, without losing the urgency.

The UK Peak Oil Task Force, a group of six companies headed by Branson, warned the world will face an oil crunch as early as 2015, in a report released Wednesday, . Meaning, global production will reach its peak and supply will no longer be able to meet demand — even if developing countries like China somehow cut back. This oil crunch will cause oil prices to rise and become more volatile and ultimately impact on everything from fertilizer to computers to clothes.

And the group isn’t alone. The CEO of Brazil’s state-owned oil company Petrobras warned last December that world oil production would peak this year. And Total’s CEO has said the world will need to produce more than 100 million barrels a day within a few years and without more investment there won’t be enough supply to meet demand.

The task force stops short of predicting an all-out Armageddon. But they do believe it will destabilize the economy and call for governments and businesses to invest in alternative energy sources that will lessen our dependency on oil. A video featuring two of the group’s members, Will Whitehorn, president of Virgin Galactic and John Miles, chairman of Arup, a design and business consultant firm…
(11 Feb 2010)

The next crisis: Peak oil

Jeremy Leggett, Forbes
“The next five years will see us face another crunch–the oil crunch. This time, we do have the chance to prepare. The challenge is to use that time well… Our message to government and businesses is clear: act. Don’t let the oil crunch catch us out in the way that the credit crunch did.”

So wrote the CEOs and Chairmen of the companies involved in the U.K. Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy–Richard Branson of Virgin, Ian Marchant of Scottish and Southern, Brain Souter of Stagecoach, Phillip Dilley of Arup and I–in the forward of our second annual report, released on Feb. 10.

In the report, we produce data that suggests a peak of global oil production at less than 95 million barrels a day, up from some 85 million now, and we summarize fears that could result in a peak of less than 92 million, plus a steep fall beyond the peak, all at a time when demand is rising well in excess of 100 million barrels a day. The data is based on research into current and projected oil production levels, extraction costs, exploration projects that are underway or in the pipeline and growth projections for developed and developing nations.

This is a loud blast of the whistle from a fairly broad group of companies. Neither are we alone on this side of the “premature peak oil” debate. The CEOs of oil companies Total and Petrobras are on record as saying the world will never produce more than 89 million barrels a day. The IEA has warned of an oil supply shock within five years and on Thursday raised its oil demand forecast for 2010 to 86.5 million barrels a day…
(11 Feb 2010)

Oil shortages by 2020 due to Western ‘profligacy’, says energy boss

Rowena Mason, the Telegraph
Ian Marchant, who heads the £10bn FTSE-100 company, is among a group of corporate leaders warning that the world’s demand for oil is on the brink of outstripping industry’s ability to produce.

“The West has been far too profligate in its use of oil and the price is going to say: stop it now and start using your oil as a scarce commodity,” Mr Marchant said.

The energy boss is a member of the Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security, along with Sir Richard Branson, the aviation and media billionaire, Brian Souter, the chief executive of Stagecoach, and Philip Dilley, chairman of engineering group Arup.

They believe that it will be very difficult for the world to produce more than 100m barrels per day of oil.

Current output is around 87m barrels per day, but demand for petrol products is likely to surge as the standard of living increases in China and India.

“It’s GCSE economics that if production is constrained and demand increases from emerging countries, the price will go up and up and up,” Mr Marchant said.

He urged the Government to start dealing with the problem of limited oil supply by encouraging consumers to limit their energy usage…
(10 Feb 2010)