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Energy Experts Warn of Growing Threat to World Oil Supplies
Lisa Schlein
VOA, Geneva
20 Nov 2003, 22:29 UTC


Energy experts at a U.N.-sponsored energy forum warn oil supplies are under a growing threat from several directions. The experts, who are taking part in the newly formed Energy Security Forum, say thousands of billions of dollars will have to be invested in energy during the next decade to secure adequate supply.

Participants at the meeting agree that, while energy security has been a problem for decades, the risks have changed and are much bigger than they were just a few years ago.

Chief Executive Officer of Energy and Communication Solutions, Robert MacFarlane, served as National Security advisor to former President Ronald Reagan. He says the threats are greater than they were five-years ago, and specific measures must be taken.

"All of this has led us to reconfirm some of the conclusions of last year," he said. "That is the importance of diversifying the supply of energy so that we are not overly reliant on any one region, for example the Persian Gulf. But try to stimulate additional production in alternative sites, in the Caspian area, in Russia and elsewhere. And, in addition, to accelerate the development of technologies that can replace hydro-carbons if possible."

In response to the growing uncertainty, the United Nations has assembled experts from different fields and created an Energy Security Forum. The group includes representatives from oil companies, OPEC, international financial institutions, and the largest energy-consuming countries.

The role of the forum is to make recommendations on energy security policies to the U.N. Secretary-General, the Security Council, and the Economic and Social Council.

Mr. MacFarlane says members of the Forum will also share data and advise on raising the vast amounts of capital needed for new energy projects.

"The financial side of the discussion this morning was particularly daunting to the extent that it suggested a need for as much as two to $3-trillion in new investment for energy infrastructure in the next 10 years time," he said. "Truly a daunting, ambitious level that prompts us to explore where will it come from and what will the impact on other sectors of our societies if that is done as well as if it is not."

OPEC leaders at the Forum sought to reassure the public, saying there is plenty of oil on the world market and the supply and price of oil are not affected by the war in Iraq.