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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Oil Chiefs: Demand to Soar for 50 Years

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — Worldwide demand for energy will soar in the next 50 years because of population growth and present challenges for the global oil industry, industry leaders gathered at the World Petroleum Congress agreed.

ChevronTexaco Corp. chairman and chief executive David O'Reilly said the greatest demand for oil will come from the underdeveloped world.

O'Reilly told the 3,100 oil industry executives and government ministers at the four-day summit that they need to work together as partners to extract the finite oil reserves the world will require.

"Close to 75 percent of the world's oil reserves lie in just seven countries and more than two-thirds are controlled by national oil companies, with limited access for international companies," O'Reilly said.

He said state-owned oil companies need broader partnerships with international oil companies.

He cited his company's partnership with Brazil's Petroleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras, in a deep-water exploration project off Nigeria and the work of 10 oil companies and three governments on an oil pipeline spanning six nations in Central Asia leading to the Caspian Sea.

Heloisa Oliveira, a spokesman for Conservation International in Brazil, said that so far, there has been little interest from oil executives in visiting the stands set up to inform them of environmental opportunities.

Executives seemed more interested in forging partnerships between the industry and the governments of developing countries to extract the world's remaining oil reserves.

"Only a minor part of the natural gas supplies have been found and huge supplies are waiting to be developed around the world," said Diamel Eddine Kheme of Sonatrach, Algeria's state-owned oil company.

He said the demand for natural gas will grow faster than the demand for oil in the next 20 years.

With oil and natural gas supplying 90 percent of energy needs worldwide, the conference debate focused on better ways to provide consumers with cheap, reliable energy, particularly to the third of the global population said to be in "energy poverty."

The head of state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela, Ali Rodriguez Araque, said oil will continue to be "the energy of choice," and that means stepping up the search for new reserves.

"We can safely forecast that world oil demand will increase from the present level of 76 million barrels per day to over 91 million barrels a day in 2010," said Rodriguez, whose country has the biggest oil fields outside the Middle East.

Rodriguez said demand could exceed 120 million barrels per day by 2020.