World demand for oil and gas will outstrip supply within seven years, according to Royal Dutch Shell.
The oil multinational is predicting that conventional supplies will not keep pace with soaring population growth and the rapid pace of economic development.
Jeroen van der Veer, Shell’s chief executive, said in an e-mail to the company’s staff this week that output of conventional oil and gas was close to peaking. He wrote: “Shell estimates that after 2015 supplies of easy-to-access oil and gas will no longer keep up with demand.”
The boss of the world’s second-largest oil company forecast that, regardless of government policy initiatives and investment in renewables, the world would need more nuclear power and unconventional fossil fuels, such as oil sands.
“Using more energy inevitably means emitting more CO2 at a time when climate change has become a critical global issue,” he wrote.
Mr van der Veer is expected to discuss Shell’s energy outlook today at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
In his e-mail, which was reported on RoyalDutchShellplc.com, an independent website that monitors the company, Shell’s chief set out two scenarios for the world’s energy future.
The first scenario, “Scramble”, envisages a mad dash by nations to secure resources. With policymakers viewing energy as “a zero-sum game,” use of domestic coal and biofuels accelerates.
It is a world, said the Shell chief, where “policymakers pay little attention to energy consumption – until supplies run short.”
The alternative scenario, “Blue-prints”, envisages a world of political cooperation between governments on efficiency standards and taxes, a convergence of policies on emissions trading and local initiatives to improve environmental performance of buildings.