Why Richard Branson bought an island?

Most of us assumed that Sir Richard Branson was just eccentric when he treated himself to his very own island. The showman of the corporate world was obviously using his wealth to buy himself the ultimate status symbol. A paradise island trumps a villa in Spain, right?

A more civilised ending to a PV-powered civilisation.

A more civilised ending to a PV-powered civilisation.

The truth, however, is Mr Branson bought himself Necker Island in 1978 as an oil shock sanctuary where he and his family can live out the rest of their days in their paradise retreat while the rest of the world comes to terms with an oil starved civilisation.

The self-made billionaire and Virgin boss attempted to warn the world back in 2010 when he said: “that we should all prepare for an ‘energy crunch’ within the next five years.”.

Speaking with other corporate executives who also support the warning including, chief executive of Scottish and Southern Energy group, and the chief executive of transport operator Stagecoach.

Mr Branson and these industry executives know that oil is the blood in the veins and arteries of every part of our society, the world oil flow-rate must pump as forcefully as our human blood.

Every nook and cranny of the world’s modern civilisation, but similar to the human body will quickly begin to falter and then die when restricted.

Three years into this five year’s warning, we as a society are still as complacent as ever with no foresight past the next general election. Political parties stay quiet, and commerce continues the business as a usual approach – But the signs are everywhere.

Is this the ramblings of a madman, or could the world’s most successful airline operator know a thing or two about oil supply? Learning from the experience of the 1973 oil crisis, he has apparently made it his business to watch out for the next one.

You can see the warning signs in your year on year rising energy bills, but the place to see what’s on the horizon, then you need to look at the bigger picture of the world’s oil production.

Of the 106 oil producing nations which all contribute to our comfortable lifestyles, 60 are in terminal crude producing the decline. This situation has enormous implications for us all because at some point, probably in the current decade, the world’s overall oil-flow will begin to fall – FOREVER.

The signs of an ailing world hooked on a depleting resource

The oil-rich Iranians know it, and that is why they are so desperate to arm themselves with nuclear weapons. We don’t want them to have atomic abilities, so when the time is right, we can just walk in and take their oil, in the same way, that Iraq’s oil has already plundered.

Finding regions of the world where oil production is not in terminal decline is increasingly becoming harder for our politicians, so when I heard that David Cameron was eager to help the French with the Mali liberation, I thought, yes its oil! Sure enough, after checking, I discovered the Algeria/Mauritania and Mali regions of Africa have not yet hit oil production decline again.

When you look at the strategic manoeuvring around oil, you can see why Tony Blair was so eager to stand side by side with an American invasion of Iraq, despite the tide of disapproval at the time.

Like global warming, we are slow to realise the unintended consequences, and what we are now seeing is a surge in oil demand from the Far East at a time when we are discovering the majority of the world’s oil production declines.

That cheap Chinese made toaster doesn’t seem such a great buy now when you realise it is contributing to your higher petrol and home energy prices.

When you pass around your bottle of wine at a party, you inevitably have less to drink yourself, and the same is valid with this global human side, we are all living through at the moment, but like any good party, it always ends when the fuel runs dry.

I initially started Power My Home when I found out that the North Sea oil was in decline since 1999, and realising the effect that would have on our once, cheap and cheerful energy bills.

I commend Mr Branson’s warning to us all, or should I say those who will listen. However, I suspect it’s so that he can slip quietly into the night, to his island retreat with food and supplies large enough for a small army and sigh of relief with a guilt-free conscious saying:

“Well I did warn them, but nobody listened, pass me another drink darling.”

I don’t like the thought that oil production will peak and decline any more than I love the idea that one day I will die. But both are facts and both can arrive a lot sooner than you may think or want.

Do you need a handyman for your island Mr Branson? I’m available.

"Light is life."

Stuart Lovatt 2013-02-18
Founder of Power My Home.