BP's Hayward Sees Upside to Economic Growth, Energy Demand

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago (Dow Jones), Nov. 25, 2009

The dip in global growth rates is temporary and the world could soon resume a sharp-rising spurt in economic activity, accompanied by higher demand for energy, the head of BP said.

"We're living in a time of unprecedented growth...And with that comes a dramatic increase in energy demand," Chief Executive Tony Hayward said Tuesday.

Speaking at the Commonwealth Business Forum, a meeting of more than 50 countries, most of them former British colonies, Hayward said fossil fuels will continue to be the key provider of energy. He said the percentage contribution from alternative energy sources such as wind and solar to overall consumption is likely to remain in the low single digits for decades.

"According to BP's projections, the world will need 45% more energy in 2030 than we use today," he said. "That means we'll need to invest more than $1 trillion a year, every year, between now and 2030."

He said crude oil and other fossil fuels will continue to be able to meet this rising demand. "I don't believe there's a shortage of fossil fuels...We have around 40 years of oil and 60 years of [natural] gas at the current consumption rates."

Hayward said a key to avoiding excessive carbon emissions amid this expected rise in energy demand will be to increase efficiency, which he said had the double benefit of cutting costs for companies and governments while also trimming emissions.

The BP chief touted natural gas as the hands-down cleanest-burning fossil fuel, and said its increased use will be the best way to meet global demand.  

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