Branson warns that oil crunch: Energy crisis threatens to be more serious than credit crunch
Sir Richard Branson and fellow leading businessmen will warn ministers this week that the world is running out of oil and faces an oil crunch within five years.
…Other British executives who will support the warning include Ian Marchant, chief executive of Scottish and Southern Energy group, and Brian Souter, chief executive of transport operator Stagecoach.
Their call for urgent government action comes amid a wider debate on the issue and follows allegations by insiders at the International Energy Agency that the organization had deliberately underplayed the threat of so-called "peak oil" to avoid panic on the stock markets.
…The issue came up at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos where Thierry Desmarest, chief executive of the Total oil company in France, also broke ranks. The world could struggle to produce more than 95m barrels of oil a day in future, he said – 10% above present levels. "The problem of peak oil remains."
Chris Skrebowski, an independent oil consultant who prepared parts of the peak oil report for Branson and others, said that only recession is holding back a crisis…Skrebowski believes that Britain is particularly vulnerable because it has gone from being a net exporter of oil, gas and coal to being an importer, and is becoming increasingly exposed to competition for supplies.
The question of peak oil came to centre stage last November when a whistleblower told the Guardian the figures provided by the IEA – and used by the UK and US governments for much of their planning scenarios – were inaccurate.
"The IEA in 2005 was predicting that oil supplies could rise as high as 120m barrels a day by 2030, although it was forced to reduce this gradually to 116m and then 105m last year," said the IEA source. "The 120m figure always was nonsense but even today's number is much higher than can be justified and the IEA knows this."