FOR environmentalists urging a big cut in world oil consumption, Sir John Browne's message here in Davos could hardly have been more blunt or alarming.
The BP chief executive is predicting that world oil demand will rise by 2 per cent a year for the next 10 years up to a peak of about 90 million barrels of oil a day, a level he believes might be close to the industry's maximum production capacity. Furthermore, with developments in technology, allowing deep water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere, that level of production might be maintained for 30 or 40 years before known oil reserves begin to run dry.
Sir John had this striking observation to offer: "The amount of oil used in the next 10 years will exceed all the oil consumed in the first five decades of the last century."
Sir John's remarks were echoed by Ali Rodriguez, secretary general of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. Mr Rodriguez said that according to the oil cartel's predictions, oil consumption would grow by a third from present levels up to 2020.
Sir John said that more efficient use of petroleum products and the supplement of alternative sources of energy might lead to some decline in Western oil consumption, but there would be a …