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George Monbiot: Oil companies should save for the future

10th June 2010

Oil companies should start saving their profits, as the cost of decommissioning the industry's aging infrastructure and developing cleaner energy will be far greater than many predict.

According to ardent environmentalist and Guardian columnist George Monbiot, BP should be setting aside its vast profits - which stood at USD 26 billion last year - to pay for future liabilities.

The author of Captive State and Heat says UN figures put the decommissioning bill in the oil industry at USD 50-170 billion a year - but claimed new research by British economists has shown that this figure is three times too low.

'Just as Norway has treated its oil money not as profit but as provision against a tougher future, so the governments in whose territories oil companies work should force them to pay into a decommissioning fund,' Monbiot wrote in the Guardian.

His comments come after beleaguered BP chief executive Tony Hayward announced he was pushing ahead with the payment of a USD 10 billion shareholder dividend - despite growing political pressure to halt the payout.

BP's Deepwater Horizon oil platform, which exploded killing 11 people on April 20th, is still spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico and is expected to continue doing so well into September.

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