A taskforce of eight leading British engineering, utility and transport companies is predicting the world will reach peak oil in three to five years. The taskforce looked at three possible scenarios: a collapse in production, a decline, or a plateauing of production once peak oil is reached.

Taskforce chairman, ex-Greenpeace scientist and chair of SolarCentury, Jeremy Leggett, says even Shell Oil agrees with the third option, although the company is more optimistic about when the plateau will be reached.

Leggett says that “What we are arguing is that the oil industry and oil institutions have been irrationally exuberant about their ability to meet demand going forward, in much the same way that the financial institutions have been irrationally exuberant about their ability to manage complex financial instruments.”

Faced with peak oil, BP is going in the wrong direction. Instead of looking to kick-start the renewable revolution (do you remember BP and Beyond Petroleum??), it is looking at a broad range of options, including acquisitions in Canada’s dirty oil sands.

Announcing huge profits yesterday, BP’s Chief financial officer Byron Grote said that the current financial instability might give the company opportunities, including investing in “unconventionals” which includes oil sands. “I think that one has to look at every opportunity on its own merit and decide how it fits in the overall portfolio,” he said.

In a news release, CEO Tony Hayward said BP has committed less of its portfolio to high-cost options like oil sands. But this could now change.

This morning, Leggett told the BBC that the warnings were there, but the time to act is now and “What we are saying is let’s get this right.”

In contrast, BP looks to be getting it all wrong. Again.

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